BLACKBURN Cathedral’s flagship new cafe-restaurant launching early this summer will be run by East Lancashire’s Michelin-starred celebrity chef Nigel Haworth from Northcote.
The licensed bistro-style eaterie for 78 diners will initially open from early morning to late afternoon. It will operate as a restaurant in the evenings during December, over Christmas and New Year and at other special times.
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Mr Haworth said he hoped the ‘Cafe Northcote at the Cathedral’ would tap into and enhance the new ‘vibrancy’ he detects in Blackburn.
The cafe will be bookable for late events and dinners from its mid-May opening and hopefully open more permanently in the evening in the future.
It will be the jewel in the crown of the Church of England complex’s £8.5million clergy court, the first suite of staff residences and domestic buildings built at a UK Cathedral for 600 years.
The news has been welcomed as a boost to the £34 million Cathedral Quarter, the regeneration of Blackburn town centre and plans to revive its night-time economy Mr Haworth and business partner Craig Bancroft, who run Langho’s award-laden Northcote Hotel and Restaurant, hope to attract thousands of visitors and ‘foodies’.
They will create 15 locally-recruited jobs and two apprenticeships along with a work placement and training partnership with Blackburn College.
Today’s exclusive announcement to the Lancashire Telegraph has been praised as a major boost to the town and visitor magnet by Chamber of Trade President Tony Duckworth and Borough Tory and Liberal Democrat leaders Mike Lee and David Foster.
Cathedral development chief Canon Andrew Hindley said: “It will open in mid-May, initially from breakfast to late afternoon.
“We hope to be able to extend the hours, transforming in into an evening restaurant, at a later stage.
“The cafe is designed in a bistro-style giving a modern twist to the traditional Monastic refectory.”
The 78-cover café, in the newly-named ‘Walsingham Hall’, will face the specially-created ‘Cathedral Square’ for events and festivals..
It is part of a landmark complex of offices, conference rooms and library surrounding a landscaped cloister ‘garth ‘ (or garden) with fountain.
Mr Duckworth said: “I am pleased to welcome chefs with a history of quality eating to the centre of Blackburn.
“It should prove a great draw over time.”
The project, developed with Blackburn with Darwen Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, will be a ‘beacon for the best of Lancashire’.
Mr Haworth said: “Whenever I visit Blackburn nowadays I sense a vibrancy in the town which I think Northcote can add to.
“We are delighted to be working with Lancashire’s cathedral, championing local produce and Blackburn’s heritage.
“We look forward to being part of bringing this incredible Cathedral Quarter development to life.”
Mr Haworth is creating a special menu offering coffee, sandwiches and food ‘to-go’, breakfast, ‘Afternoon Tea’ and ‘Sunday Lunch’, fresh breads, sweet treats, pastas, salads and platters including Lancashire specialities such as Eccles Cakes and Black Pudding.
Prices will range from £2 to £20.
It will open initially from 7.30am until 5pm weekdays and slightly later at weekends closing at 6pm on Saturdays and 4.30pm on Sundays.
The existing Crypt cafe will close becoming an event and exhibition space.
Dean of Blackburn Christopher Armstrong said: “Hospitality continues to be central to the Cathedral.
“This shows a commitment to excellence making it even more attractive as a destination for visitors”.
Council regeneration boss Phil Riley said: “We’re absolutely delighted Northcote will be opening this fantastic new venture.
“With Nando’s opening on the other side of the railway station later this year and our plans for a restaurant quarter around Blakey Moor, we are really making progress regenerating Blackburn town centre to make it a magnet in the future for visitors, residents and tourists.”
Cllr Lee said: “I am very pleased.
“Northcote’s involvement should make this a great attraction bringing visitors into our town centre.”
Cllr Foster said: “I am delighted.
“It will be a great draw for Blackburn town centre.”
Northcote, which provides the he catering for Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park ground, recently named the UK’s Best Restaurant outside London, has had an internationally recognised Michelin Star for culinary excellence since 1996.