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Advantage completes biggest combined project yet

Advantage Elwick Place crop
The Gastronomist Club was one of four fit-outs Advantage Catering Equipment undertook at Elwick Place leisure development in Ashford, Kent.

Advantage Catering Equipment is celebrating as it ties up operations on its biggest combined project to date.

The Folkstone-based equipment specialist has just completed work on four of the outlets at the new Elwick Place leisure, retail and restaurant development in Ashford, Kent.

From initially coming on board to work with long-standing customer Macknade, a food hall, dining, deli, drinks and butchers’ concept, site developers Stanhope approached Advantage to design and install the F&B facilities at another of the site’s premises.

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The Gastronomist Club is a modern event space with a dinner party-style restaurant which offers its guests a curated two and a half-hour dining experience featuring menus inspired by ingredients from the surrounding Kent countryside. Guests sit together on long, social tables, running the length of the restaurant up to an open kitchen which dominates the top wall and is designed to provide entertainment and a focal point for diners.

With work underway at both Macknade and The Gastronomist Club, Stanhope added a third project into the mix and brought Advantage onboard to fit-out the Unita 4 premises. This is a modern, casual Italian food concept focusing on freshly made pasta dishes and authentic pizzas.

The fourth Elwick Place project was not of a foodservice nature, but one that still relied on Advantage’s expertise in planning, walls, floors and ceilings. Stanhope again made the introduction between Advantage and Laughlan Jones, an interior design company, specialising in the niche area of luxury ski chalet interiors. The Advantage team prepared the space ready for the client’s own interior designers to populate.

Each of the three foodservice outlets were different in terms of design and the equipment required. Counters, displays, refrigeration displays, serveries and hot plates all played a part in the Macknade fit-out. The open kitchen aspect at The Gastronomist Club relied on well thought-out ventilation and extraction and a balance between practical kitchen flow and operation and being aesthetically pleasing to the diner.

Unita 4 required wood fired pizza ovens, and pasta-making equipment of all shapes and sizes. Advantage believes that individually, the projects offered the chance to produce quality installations that are the bread and butter of the business, and collectively, they allowed the company to showcase its versatility, tenacity and ambition to deliver multiple projects within a close timeframe.

Simon Critchett, project manager at Advantage Catering Equipment said: “Not only are we thrilled to have won the contacts at a number of the units at Elwick Place but it’s how it all unfolded that really makes us proud. To have impressed enough on the first project to turn the heads of the developers which then led to three more contracts is just fantastic, and testament to the hard work and attention to detail of the entire Advantage team.

“This project has given us the opportunity to push ourselves and see what we’re capable of in a design-led role. We’ve been in the industry for nearly 20 years with a heavy focus on equipment installations, service and maintenance, and only modestly got on with design projects so to be given not one, but four, opportunities to flex our design capabilities has been a real coup for the entire team.”

Advantage feels it went above what is normally expected of commercial kitchen designers and installers. At one-point Critchett found himself sourcing curtains for one of the outlets, organising waste management facilities and logistics, and even paying the broadband contract. “To say we deal in ovens and floors, we certainly went the extra mile on this one to ensure the customer was happy!” he said.

The Gastronomist Club co-owner Ainara Mateu said: “We were thrilled with the level of work and commitment shown by Simon and the whole Advantage team. We felt in safe hands and that they understood what we were trying to achieve with The Gastronomist Club concept.

“They were able to guide us at every step when decisions needed to be made over equipment placement, floors, lighting and ventilation. You name it; Advantage took care of it! We wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again on any future projects at The Gastronomist Club.”

Stanhope development consultant Gary Bourne added: “As project manager of the Elwick Place project, I was on site and led many of the meetings with the Advantage team and I was incredibly impressed by the quality of their work and how they moved all the projects forward at the same time. I found them easy to work with, prompt and vitally, extremely reliable. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again.”

While Critchett underlined: “We’re acutely aware of how fortunate we’ve been to have bucked the trend and grown and developed the services offered by the business over the last year. We know many of our colleagues across the sector have struggled but we hope many can seek out new ways of doing business as the wider hospitality sectors starts to get back on its feet.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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