'Incredible' – New seafront food hall traders hail opening weekend success

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After months of preparation and planning, a new seafront food hall opened its doors as part of an “incredible” weekend.

As thousands of people descended on Lowestoft for the return of the First Light Festival on Saturday and Sunday it coincided with the unveiling of the transformed East Point Pavilion.

It was revamped with £720,000 from the government’s Towns Fund and is owned by East Suffolk Council, and operated by First Light CIC.

Having undergone extensive refurbishments over the past six months, an “exciting mix” of traders are now ready to go.

Inside the new East Point Pavilion. – Credit: Mick Howes

Traders were left “absolutely buzzing” as they hailed the success of a “mega” weekend, which saw queues build on Saturday. 

Traders include Black Dog Pizza, Oishii Kitchen and Tres Hermanas, and the East Point Pavilion bar is run by Sir Toby’s Beers.

This will soon be boosted by a new deli to be run by Black Dog Pizza, and a new food outlet will be unveiled next month.

Sir Toby’s Beers

Staff at Sir Toby’s Beers at East Point Pavilion. – Credit: Mick Howes

Renowned for its craft beer stall on Norwich Market and for taking over at the Stanford Arms in Lowestoft last year, Sir Toby’s is now running the East Point Pavilion bar.

From something that started out as a conversation about beer five years ago, co-owners Toby Westgarth and Dominic Burke admitted it was a really busy weekend.

Mr Westgarth said: “It was a very successful weekend with so much going on.”

Mr Burke said: “It really was packed from start to finish and we’re now looking forward to opening seven days a week.

“When we started from a 2.5m stall on Norwich market in those early days – that was just over four years ago – we never thought we would be running a popular pub and at this new venue.”

Mr Westgarth added: “It still hasn’t quite sunk in.

“We’ve been over a year in the Stanford Arms now, since April last year, and it’s been going well.

“This is such a big space and we’re looking forward to working with the really creative people with First Light on future events.”

Four new staff members have been employed at the bar, and this is likely to soon be “five or six”.

The team from Sir Toby’s also brewed a new beer, East Point Pale, for the festival in conjunction with Norfolk brewers, Ampersand.

Sir Toby’s Beers at East Point Pavilion. – Credit: Mick Howes

Black Dog Pizza Co.

Staff at Black Dog Pizza Co at East Point Pavilion. – Credit: Mick Howes

Run by Black Dog Deli Foods – based in Halesworth, with venues in Halesworth and Walberswick – Andrew Storer and Michael Anfilogoff started the company in 2014.

This is a new venture in Lowestoft – a hand-stretched, sourdough pizzeria offering traditional Italian flavours and more funky, modern takes on pizza.

It is also a homecoming of sorts for Mr Storer, as his family originate from Lowestoft – and his nan used to run a seafront hotel just a few hundreds metres away.

He said: “The weekend was incredible and we went home absolutely buzzing.

“We did not stop rolling out pizzas all weekend.

“Everything is made to order, with dough from the bakehouse, and we have been running a bit of a launch special.

“We’re really looking forward to the rest of the summer.”

Oishii Kitchen

Staff at Oishii street kitchen at East Point Pavilion. – Credit: Mick Howes

Based at venues in Norwich and King’s Lynn, the Asian street food restaurant is known for its burgers, bao buns and brownies.

Pleased to be a part of the new pavilion, and “take on board a new project”, Sam Bianco, director of Oishii Kitchen, said: “The weekend was mega.

“We are very proud of what we are doing and very pleased with the team we have managed to build.”

Mr Bianco, along with fellow directors Lucy Hurrell, Nina Gooda and Tom Hurrell has employed 10 people. He said: “The new employees are local and all motivated young people who completed training with us last week.

“They are very, very excited to be here – as are we, it’s exciting and we’re very happy to be a part of it.”

Tres Hermanas

Staff at Tres Hermanas inside East Point Pavilion. – Credit: Mick Howes

Providing flavoursome Mexican street food, including nachos, burritos and quesadillas, Tres Hermanas – three sisters – is owned by sisters Kelly, Claire and Jenny Scoot, from Lowestoft.

Kelly, manager, said: “We’ve been open at JOJO’s Kitchen and Bar in Lowestoft High Street for coming up to four years and the experience we have built up there we felt there was a big market in Mexican food to cater for.

“We have five or six items on the menu, and we are hoping to see a lot of people come in to cater for that.

“From opening the doors on Saturday people were queuing out of the doors, and this makes all the hard work and planning worthwhile.”

With new members of staff employed – including head chef Warren Charge and staff member Chrissy Ward – Miss Scoot said: “The pavilion is catering for everyone and we’re really pleased to be part of it all.”

Staff at Tres Hermanas inside East Point Pavilion. – Credit: Mick Howes

Planet Oeuf

Pleased to be part of the opening weekend with a pop up unit, Ian Fairless, at Planet Oeuf, said: “It went really well.

“There was a really good atmosphere and I think it will be really great for Lowestoft.

“It was busy all day Saturday and Sunday and something like this is needed.”

He added that a “different concept” will be opening next month, offering Moroccan Persian flatbread.

‘The weekend was exceptional’

Alison Joseph at East Point Pavilion. – Credit: Mick Howes

Alison Joseph, operations manager at East Point Pavilion, praised the efforts of everyone involved during a “constantly busy” opening weekend.

Mrs Joseph said: “The weekend was exceptional and I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive comments and feedback we’ve received on the food, toilets and the building itself.

“People were raving about the food, beers and the atmosphere.

“We also had people in who needed to use the Changing Places Toilets and they were so pleased to have a facility like this provided in Lowestoft.

“The DJ sets were perfectly balanced and were really good as we had people up and dancing, while Wayne Hemingway’s DJ set on Sunday morning was really well received.

“Speaking to the management of the food and bar outlets it was an exceptional opening weekend – the traders were all really happy.”

The East Point Pavilion is now open seven days a week until the end of September – running from noon to 9pm, Monday to Saturday, and from noon to 6pm on Sunday’s.

The team behind First Light is now putting together a year-round schedule of live music, DJs and performances, alongside a programme of artisan markets and community-led workshops and events.