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Michelin-starred 5 North Street opens three days after major fire

18 March 2015 by
Michelin-starred 5 North Street opens three days after major fire

The Michelin-starred restaurant 5 North Street restaurant in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, managed to re-open just three days after a portion of the building in which it sits was gutted by fire.

A blaze at the restaurant, owned by Marcus and Kate Ashenford, started on the evening of Sunday 8 March, at around 9.30pm.

The fire, which is thought to have started in a private kitchen above the restaurant, gutted a large part of the private accommodation in which the Ashenfords live, and despite the fire services' success in confining the fire to that area, the restaurant below was damaged by smoke and water.

It was very unfortunate timing for the restaurant, which was gearing up for Festival week at the nearby Cheltenham Racecourse, which Marcus described as being like "five Saturday nights in a row - better than Christmas almost".

Initially, he and Kate feared that their business would miss out on the entire week. But thanks to their own efforts and a considerable amount of help from the local community, they managed to re-open by Thursday 12 March.

"It was a very serious fire and we will probably be out of our home for six to eight months. It has gutted our accommodation. But the firemen were able to contain it to upstairs," Marcus told The Caterer.

"But water was flowing down onto the tables in the restaurant, the chairs, the carpets, the walls, ceilings, everything.

"We looked at it and asked ourselves if we could get it open that week and the initial thought was probably not. But it was race week after all, and we have got a lot of good customers here that have been coming here every year for a dozen years."

Neighbours and members of the local community rallied round the restaurant and the Ashenfords were lent dehumidifiers, the skills of painters and decorators, and had their clothes and other items damaged by smoke washed by helpful locals.

"Winchcombe is a small community with a great spirit and everyone was queueing up at the front door to help," Marcus said.

"The final bit of work was the industrial carpet cleaner who came in and did his job and we thought wow, we can do this. Business-wise it didn't really get affected too much because we only lost a couple of days. When you look at the figures of it, it was actually a good week because we had Mothering Sunday."

"My kitchen downstairs was the only room in the whole building that didn't get affected. The restaurant got flooded and the cellar underneath it where the wine is, but bless my little kitchen - it is small and basic but was the only room that didn't get touched."

Unfortunately though, it could be six to eight months before the Ashenfords and their two children are back living in the accommodation above the restaurant. In the meantime, friends have given them access to local holiday cottages to stay in.

Restaurant 5 North Street is a 26-cover restaurant, with Kate running the front of house with the help of a part-time waitress, and Marcus running the kitchen with one other full-time chef.

The restaurant has held a Michelin star since 2004.

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