Haskins Garden Centres is to spend £2.3m developing a new 460-seater restaurant at its business in Southampton, in recognition of the fact that catering revenue can now account for up to 20% of turnover at garden centres.
The company, which owns four centres in Dorset, Hampshire and West Sussex, will also start to recruit an additional 50 catering staff from April.
It has already spent £2.5m on the restaurant at another of its centres, doubling annual turnover to £2m and accounting for 19% of the centre's total turnover.
The new restaurant in Southampton will feature different seating areas including a more traditional dining seating area for those enjoying their carvery or hot food and glass-walled extension that will open out to one of two large patio areas for alfresco dining where diners can drink Costa coffee. There will also be an extendable function room, available for organisations and private parties.
All other facilities - including kitchens, storage areas, catering offices and customer toilets - will be rebuilt within the 8,000sq ft extension.
Carl Hadfield, group catering manager for Haskins Garden Centres, said work will start to transform the current 250-cover restaurant in March.
"The new restaurant will include many new features, with the introduction a traditional stone hearth pizza oven, a quality daily carvery and numerous fresh baked products available from one of the most extensive cake counters in the region," he said. "Free Wi-Fi for internet users will also be introduced for those customers wanting to surf the net whilst enjoying a Costa coffee"
The current team of 50 catering staff will continue to be employed during the closure of the facility.
"In April we expect to start recruiting for the additional 50 catering personnel required, including restaurant management, chefs, KPs and general restaurant assistants. That will take our catering strength to a total of over 220 employees within the group and account for over 40% of all employees," Hadfield said.
By Neil Gerrard
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