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RSC launches new food offering at flagship theatre

08 October 2010 by

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is to launch a new food offering at its flagship theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, which is reopening next month following a three-year £113m refurbishment.

Earlier this year, the company decided to no longer contract out its food and beverage operation, which was previously run by French contract caterer Eliance, but to run it in-house instead. The RSC appointed Chris Barber, managing director of consultancy Leiths Food Solutions, who was tasked with implementing the culinary team for the new dining offer.

The new eateries at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which will open on 24 November, will include the 150-seat Rooftop Restaurant and the 40-seat Riverside Café as well as a number of bars including the Upper Circle Bar, Circle Bar and Swan Theatre Bar.

The operation will be overseen by Rob Frederickson (pictured right), who has helped recruit a team of 100 staff and will manage all key supply contracts and the marketing of the restaurants.

The food offer, which will be focused on modern British dishes with an emphasis on local sourcing, will be overseen by head chef Nick Funnell (pictured left), who has joined the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from the Goodwood Hotel in West Sussex where he was executive chef.

The Rooftop restaurant, which is designed in an Art Deco style, includes a circular 20-seat private dining room and will be open daily for lunch and dinner. Meanwhile, the Riverside Café, featuring a terrace overlooking the river Avon, will be open all day.

Frederickson told Caterer the biggest challenge was to attract non-theatregoers. "There will be eight shows taking place at the theatre every week bringing in around 12,000 guests and we'll have to cater for their needs," he said. "We'll be offering a pre-theatre menu of three starters, mains and desserts and come 6.30pm all the bills will need to be on the table. After that we'll offer a more complex à la carte menu for non-theatre visitors."

The RSC is transforming the Royal Shakespeare Theatre into a modern-day theatre. The building, designed by architects Bennetts Associates, will include a thrust stage auditorium able to seat more than 1,000 visitors, as well as the expansion and renovation of public areas. The venue will be celebrating its 50th anniversary from next April.

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By Kerstin Kühn

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