A long-awaited seafront complex offering food, drink, arts and crafts opened its doors in Whitstable Harbour this week.
Reporter Brad Harper popped along to the South Quay Shed to see for himself how the launch went, and to try out some of the new attraction's delights.....
As you walk into the South Quay Shed it's hard to imagine it was once a storage unit, left boarded up and derelict - an eyesore in the harbour.
Now it is a modern complex laid out over two floors, with 16 exciting businesses offering everything from burgers and cookies to pottery and gin.
I visit on Tuesday, the day after its launch, and upon entering feel like a wide-eyed crab gazing up from a harbour basin, which the ground floor is designed to look like.
It's one of many nods to Whitstable’s maritime heritage, with the communal seating area surrounded by coastal groynes and businesses operating out of beach huts.
Competition for the site was fierce, with more than 100 companies expressing an interest, and more than 40 putting in firm offers to snap up one of the 15 units.
And it is now home to shops, eateries and cultural activities, as well as a bar run by the city council.
As I walk through, I am hit by the delicious aroma of the many food outlets, and it's hard to know where to start.
But I decide to go where my nose takes me, as I’m drawn to the meaty smells of Rad Burger.
I walk into the small, black-walled waiting area, which is surrounded by a handful of bar stalls.
I opt for the ‘hyper beef’ - 170 grams of aged chuck steak patty, triple American cheese, smoked streaky bacon, ketchup, mustard mayo, dill pickles, crispy onions and rocket in a brioche roll.
The burger by itself is £9, but you can get the ‘buzzing deal’, which includes rosemary fries, for £12.
The kitchen area is immediately behind the counter so I watch the theatre of people’s meals being prepared, with cheery staff members joking with each other and customers.
In no time my burger is ready and I venture upstairs to find a seat.
Large windows facing the sea offer stunning views of Whitstable’s harbour, and I manage to grab the last table - it's clearly a popular spot.
My burger is oozing with melted cheese, ketchup and mustard mayo, but also smartly presented. The meat is juicy and smoky, with generous lashings of sauce and American cheese.
The rosemary fries are also a delight and incredibly moreish - well worth the extra £3.
I gaze across both floors of the South Quay Shed and notice most of the tables are occupied. There's also about a dozen dogs, with owners taking advantage of the canine-friendly location.
The atmosphere is buzzing, and I spot a couple of business owners even enjoying a glass of prosecco as they chat merrily.
We speak to some of the business owners at the South Quay Shed
Despite being so busy, the seating areas are clean, with an attentive city council worker roaming the building on the hunt for mess.
"Can I just get that food from under your feet?," she asks me, appearing from nowhere. "I don't want it getting on your shoes."
Keen to wash down my burger, I grab a regular cappuccino for £2.95 from HatHats - which also serves a wide selection of tea, hot chocolate, frappes, smoothies, ice creams and cakes.
It was both rich in flavour and packing a punch, and I quickly finished it off before heading to Dunk Cookies.
The biscuit business, which has 35,000 followers on Instagram, has been online-only since it was formed three years ago, and is based at the Joseph Wilson Industrial Estate.
But founder Annabelle Cox has taken on one of the units at the South Quay Shed.
Speaking about her first day open, she says: "It's been really good and we've had a real steady stream of customers come in.
"Some of our customers who have bought online and we've never got to meet, we've met them for the first time."
Annabelle's signature product is the £4 'cookie cone', which comes with a portion of biscuits and a dipping pot for dunking.
She says she started the business "purely from greediness" as dunking cookies into different spreads was her favourite dessert.
I ask her for her recommendation and she suggests the Kinder Crunch dip, which is white chocolate and hazelnut praline.
I hurry back to my seat and immediately slather my cookie in the sauce.
The cookie has a scrumptious homemade quality - crisp on the outside but soft on the inside - and I cannot get enough of the gooey dip.
But there's more than just food at the town's latest attraction. I take a break from eating to have a look at some of the shops, including Knotstuff Crafts, which is run by Mary Hinton and sells a variety of homemade wares.
"I think people are genuinely surprised by how great it is," she tells me.
"There is a very good atmosphere and it's a nice place for people just to come.
"They don't have to buy things. I've had a group of people painting, just enjoying the view. It's a fantastic community space."
Somehow still peckish, I venture downstairs on the hunt for something else to munch on - despite already feeling bloated and with a mild case of the 'food sweats'.
Some of the business owners reassure me this behaviour is normal, as they have noticed other people spending hours here on the first day, popping in and out of different outlets and returning with more grub.
Tucked into one of the corners on the ground floor is Sooshi Sushi. As I walk in, I feel like I'm in an entirely different building as it offers vibrant décor with neon signage and flower bouquets.
Chef Joanne Wilson started the business in her kitchen in March 2020, amid the Covid lockdown.
Speaking about the launch, she says: "From the minute we opened our doors to the minute we went home, we had people in here, which was lovely.
"Everyone was so excited and it was really nice for the community to come out and see what we've been working so hard on for the last few months.
"People are so excited about the South Quay Shed because for months it has been boarded-up windows and this mysterious thing.
"There was the rumour mill of what was going in here, so it was nice for the locals to finally see it is local businesses."
Joanne recommends a Poke bowl, which is slices of raw fish served with rice, dressing, vegetables and seasonings. I opt for salmon and a sriracha mayo dip.
It is beautifully presented and bursting with colour - topped with a yellow flower. I feel bad disturbing the masterpiece with my chopsticks.
But after a few moments, I shamelessly shovel it into my mouth, and the food is both fresh and filling.
I clamber to my feet and saunter away from my table, finally full and fit to burst.
As I walk out of the shed, I can picture the bustling crowds and lively atmosphere in the summer - and already look forward to returning.