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California Cravings set to open next month in Faversham despite planning setback

It is "full steam ahead" for the planned opening of a Mexican restaurant in Faversham town centre despite a recent setback in the planning process.

Husband and wife team Steven Georgiou and Christina Ketchum Georgiou are getting ready to open California Cravings in the former Saddlers steak house.

Work kitting out the site is ongoing
Work kitting out the site is ongoing

Teaming up with local Faversham-based brewery Boutilliers, they want to turn the vacant Market Place premises into a ‘beer cafe’ offering Mexican food with a Californian twist.

About 20 members of staff are on board ready to launch, with mid-September hoped to mark the opening of the business.

The site is primed to open most days from 12 until 10pm, and offer a casual, cafe-style dining offering as well as a more formal dining experience.

A bid for a 'lawful development certificate' has been rejected by Swale Borough Council. Earning the certificate would have meant they would not need to apply for a change of use in order to gain planning permission.

The bid has been rejected, yet Steven, who is from California and lived in England for a decade, hopes the decision can change.

The food to be on offer at California Cravings
The food to be on offer at California Cravings

"The town council is all for it and the mayor shook my hand and congratulated me on it all," he said.

"But Swale council hasn't allowed it. In 1980 there was a covenant for the building to be a tearooms, and because we're a restaurant, there's a technicality which stops us.

"No one is against us moving in, it's just a technicality which can hopefully be sorted. A planning officer is coming out to give us some advice on what to do."

The firm already has a presence in the town by running a delivery service. It previously had a base in a gazebo at Macknade but outgrew the site as the business demand grew.

Aside from Faversham, a successful permanent set-up is in operation in Ashford, running from the Coachworks complex in Dover Place.

Steven Georgiou and Christina Ketchum Georgiou
Steven Georgiou and Christina Ketchum Georgiou

"It's full steam ahead with the new opening and we're getting ready for next month," Steven said.

"We're sorting the kitchen and the beer garden and sanding down the building to bring it back to how it originally looked.

"We've got superstars in our team, and people keep walking past and they inquire as to what's going on.

"So there's lots of interest and people are looking forward to us opening."

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