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Sky Restaurant opens in Ashford town centre, filling former RJ's American Diner in Bank Street


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A prime town centre unit which previously housed a US eatery has been turned into a fine-dining restaurant offering lobster and duck.

Sky Restaurant has opened in Bank Street, Ashford, filling the former RJ's American Diner unit close to the junction with Elwick Road.

The restaurant is housed in the former RJ's American Diner spot. Pictures: Steve Harrington
The restaurant is housed in the former RJ's American Diner spot. Pictures: Steve Harrington

The independent site offers fine-dining options with locally-sourced produce, which is also used in its cocktails.

Manager Dan Walbridge says the team are pleased to bring their signature menu to life after delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We were hoping to open earlier but we're very excited to be getting started now restrictions are lifted," he said.

"We officially opened the doors last Tuesday. The reception has been really positive, everyone who has eaten or had a cocktail has said how much they have enjoyed it."

As well as an evening menu featuring meat from a butchers in Maidstone and seafood from north Kent, the restaurant also offers a bottomless brunch for £18 plus the price of a meal, and afternoon tea priced from £26.

Lobster is one of the many items available on the menu
Lobster is one of the many items available on the menu
Sky Restaurant opened for business last week
Sky Restaurant opened for business last week
Customers are able to request cocktails that are not on the menu
Customers are able to request cocktails that are not on the menu

Duck, hake, chicken ballotine and half or full lobsters are also included on the menu.

The restaurant's head chef, Sam Pendry, has been working in hospitality for 16 years, starting out as a chef and returning to the role six years ago.

"I think this is something that we are really proud of, everything to do with the restaurant is top quality," he said.

"When I heard of the opportunity to work here it wasn't something I could – or wanted to – turn down.

"We have something for everyone here, and like we say on our menu, the sky is the limit really – and by that we mean that we're happy to be flexible and cater to everyone's needs when it comes to food."

Head chef Sam Pendry, centre left, and manager Dan Walbridge, centre right, with the Sky team
Head chef Sam Pendry, centre left, and manager Dan Walbridge, centre right, with the Sky team
Sky Restaurant has opened its doors in Ashford town centre
Sky Restaurant has opened its doors in Ashford town centre
How the site used to look as RJ's American Diner
How the site used to look as RJ's American Diner
The RJ’s American Diner team in February 2019
The RJ’s American Diner team in February 2019

Mr Walbridge added this is also true for cocktails, with a small menu of 10 only offering a glimpse of the bar staff's abilities.

"If you were to come and want a particular kind of cocktail and it's not on the menu, all you have to do is ask," he said.

The site is open from 11am to 11pm Tuesday to Sunday.

On the other side of Bank Street, Kent's first independent safe deposit locker facility has opened.

Global Bullion Vault has opened in Bank Street
Global Bullion Vault has opened in Bank Street

Global Bullion Vault was officially opened by the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Callum Knowles, last month and has now started taking on new customers.

The firm offers rental of lockers to people who wish to store valuables such as jewellery, watches and documents.

Managing director Janak Rai said: "The company’s objective is to provide secure and safe storage service to the public for their valuables, in the wake of ever-increasing residential burglary and high street bank closures depriving such a locker service to the public."

Mayor Cllr Callum Knowles cut the ribbon
Mayor Cllr Callum Knowles cut the ribbon
Spice of India is set to open at the bottom of Bank Street
Spice of India is set to open at the bottom of Bank Street

The facility deploys a range of security measures to keep valuables safe, including fingerprint technology, PIN codes and physical keys.

Free insurance covers items up to a total of £12,000 per locker, extendable up to £500,000 per locker for an additional premium.

The new business is set to soon be joined by the Spice of India takeaway, which is filling the adjacent unit.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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