Takeaway or sit in, Aylsham is the go-to ‘foodie’ town

posted in: Editorial, News | 0
Daniel Howes at Seventeen.

Meet Daniel Howes, owner of deli-coffee shop-bar with music, Seventeen, the latest addition to Red Lion Street.

Daniel is the sixth food and drink outlet to open in Aylsham in the past 12 months, nearly all of them in Red Lion Street.

He follows M’s, The Blind Pig, The Porters Arms, and now a new “creative store” – the One Fox Shop at No 5 – and before them, Stamp Pizza and the Proper Pizza Co in the Market Place.

So what has turned Aylsham into the foodie destination in north Norfolk?

For Daniel, it’s the “community vibe” which attracted him and his partner Louise – and the dream to run their own food outlet.

“We spent a lot of time socialising around Aylsham visiting all the local restaurants and bars and just loved the place,” said Daniel.

He gave up his job with Virgin Wines, sold his home in Norwich and another property to fund this venture, and learned his trade at the nearby Buckinghamshire Arms.

“I’ve never done this sort of thing before and was a bit apprehensive about moving to a country market town. But we’re really looking forward to being part of the community.”

Emma Payne shakes up the neighbourhood.

Leading the Red (Lion St) Revolution was Emma Payne, who opened the snug little M’s back in February 2022. A unique combination of fish deli by day, and cocktail bar/tapas at night, M’s paved the way for the succession of eateries that followed.

“It was a gamble, just after Covid and the cost of living crisis had hit the hospitality market, but I thought Aylsham was ready for it,” says Emma.

“As the town was getting bigger, I wanted to complement the existing pubs with something different, something classy but affordable. And it worked.”

Emma welcomes the new businesses and doesn’t see them as direct competition but as “adding to the mix”.

She puts the explosion in hospitality traders down to Aylsham’s “village” atmosphere where the business community looks after each other and tries to keep it local – all the food and drink comes from local producers.

The Blind Pig opened in June 2023. A bistro and wine bar, it’s now run by Fay McKay, who has a background in the hospitality trade.

Fay McKay at the Blind Pig.

“Aylsham has so much character,” she says. “It was ready for this kind of restaurant and the lovely locals seem to have taken to us. And then there are the tourists, of course, so we’re kept pretty busy.”

Meanwhile, Stamp Pizza and The Proper Pizza Co opened in the Market Place.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, up pops the Porters Arms, a micro pub selling craft ales and wines. Run by Elliot Dransfield, who has family connections in the town, and partner Emily Bridges, the pub replaced Altair Astro, which sold telescopes and binoculars.

Elliot Dransfield, with family connections.

“Aylsham has reached a size now which can sustain more businesses and is a hub for the surrounding villages,” said Elliot.

“Business has been better than we could have expected and we’re even bringing in some old friends from our Norwich pub. Which is good for the town as well, of course.”

The latest addition to Red Lion Street is the One Fox Shop + Studio – not a bar or eatery – which opened on 2 March and sells books, cards and art works, many by children’s book author and illustrator and now shop owner, Kate Read.

Kate Read in her One Fox Shop.

“I love Aylsham,” says Kate. “It’s got a wonderful sense of community and thriving small businesses. And although there is another book shop here, it’s for a different market and I’m sure we can all work together. “

The shop is named after Kate’s award-winning picture book, One Fox – A Counting Book Thriller.

As Emma from M’s put it: “We all want each other to succeed. It’s what makes Aylsham such a great place to have a good night out.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *