Mitch 'still committed' to £1 million Sidmouth restaurant plan
- Credit: Rockfish
Celebrity chef Mitch Tonks is still planning to open a new restaurant in Sidmouth despite one of the most challenging years of his career.
And he is finding time to help spearhead a national campaign to give the shell-shocked hospitality sector a louder and more influential voice in the corridors of powers at Westminster.
A new restaurant in Sidmouth – as part of West Country-wide Rockfish chain – was given the go-ahead by East Devon planners last February with a pencilled-in opening for the autumn.
But then Coronavirus struck with lockdown closing his businesses on and off since last March.
A water-pipe burst at his Seahorse Restaurant in Dartmouth followed by a flood at Rockfish in Torquay and then damage from the recent storms to his Exmouth Rockfish haven’t helped.
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But Mitch says: “We are strong company and we will be fine. It is just such a pain.”
He is still committed to the £1 million plan to transform the old Drill Hall on Sidmouth’s Esplanade into a new Rockfish.
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He says: “Obviously everything has been massively delayed but it is still very much on the books and we are still committed.”
He said the priority had to be on re-opening his current restaurants when Coronavirus restrictions allow.
He and other leading players in tourism and hospitality – including fellow East Devon celeb chef Michael Caines – are supporting the new ‘Seat at the Table' campaign which is calling for a minister put in charge specifically of hospitality and given a place within the Cabinet.
More than 180,000 people have so far signed a campaign petition which means there are enough signatures to force a debate in the Commons on January 11.
But supporters want the names to keep rolling in to ram home the message.
Mitch says: “We want as many signatures as we can. Our industry is full of brilliant entrepreneurs. It is down to these entrepreneurs to help rebuild our economy.”
Caines, with businesses across the West Country including Lympstone and Exmouth, said: “There has got to be a Minister for Tourism and Hospitality.”
The petition can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552201/signatures/new