Published: 09:12, 07 February 2020
| Updated: 10:01, 07 February 2020
A long-awaited food shop and restaurant will open in Ashford town centre this month following a number of delays.
Macknade Fine Foods, which has been running a popular shop in Faversham since 1979, will become the first food venue to take up residence at the £75m Elwick Place development.
A further delay was then made, with a February launch now set in stone.
A spokeswoman for the company said: “In our Faversham shop, it’s about 70% food shop and 30% restaurant.
“In Ashford, we’re completely flipping that.
“What we’ve done is create spaces where you can grab a coffee, shop and eat.”
The proposed deli counter will feature a range of meats and a revolving selection of 30 to 40 cheeses.
Customers will be able to select meat from a separate butcher display, which will then be cooked in a station just behind it.
A bar will also be providing alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, while a top Italian coffee machine will be used by baristas at a separate counter.
Stefano Cuomo, the sixth-generation owner of the family business, says he is looking forward to the opening.
He said: “There’s a lot of great producers in the area and we want to build an awareness and engagement with them.
“People will be able to come here and have a light snack or drink, next to people having a three-course dinner.
“It’s a space that can be shared by everyone and because we’re a smaller company, it means our branches can be flexible.
“If something’s not working, we can change it.
“We can also, down the road, have special weeks where a supplier can take over a part of the site to showcase their products.
“There’s some great places in the town already - like the Curious Brewery and Coachworks - and part of the objective is to create a network of businesses to really promote Ashford as a food and drink hub.”
A recruitment drive held last month saw more than 100 hopefuls turn up, and 20 nearby jobseekers have been given the green light to work upon the shop’s opening.
Mr Cuomo added: “What’s exciting is that we have a wave of young people coming in, who will get some training in Faversham so they know our ethos.
“They’ll soon be able to taste the difference between coffees, cheeses and meats.
“They’ll be learning to engage more with what they eat, and be able to discuss where and how the produce is made.
“We hope we’ll be adding value to the town.”
A precise opening day is not yet known, but Macknade is filling the closest unit to the Elwick Place car park, underneath the six-screen Picturehouse cinema.
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More by this authorCharlie Harman