Chef Tommy Heaney has revealed that he will be opening his first solo restaurant in Cardiff.
Heaney, originally from County Antrim, has worked at the 13-bedroom Great House hotel in Laleston, Bridgend, for the past four years.
"This is the first time I've been able to express myself in the food we're doing. Whatever we get through the door that day will be going on the menu," said Heaney, speaking to The Caterer. "We have some really great suppliers here so we're going to keep them all on board."
Heaney has put out a call for restaurant name suggestions on social media, and while he can't divulge the exact location of the site, he has confirmed that it will be a relaxed restaurant.
Heaney's partner, Nikki Curnock, will manage the restaurant, which will also have a strong focus on drinks. Former Pollen Street Social and Dabbous bar manager Lee Hyde is going to assist in designing the cocktail menus, and the restaurant will have an extensive wine list and a selection of ales and lagers, some of which will be home-brewed.
They are hoping to have the keys for the new site by the end of May or the start of June. "We've got no investors, we're doing this completely ourselves, so it's important that we get it open as soon as possible. We may have to do things bit by bit. We wanted to make it our own. We're putting everything we have personally into it," he said.
"We've definitely got lots of big plans ahead for the Great House as well," he added. Heaney's sous chef Gareth Denyer will be stepping up to the role of head chef and Heaney will be splitting his time between the new site and the Great House.
The restaurant at the Great House was known as Leicester's until last summer. Following the retirement of owners Stephen and Norma Bond last year after 32 years, and the sale of the hotel to Sanjeev Bhagotra and Elinor Roberts, who also own Court Colman Manor and the Bokhara Brasserie nearby, the restaurant was refurbished and relaunched as Restaurant Tommy Heaney at the Great House.
Heaney also won the regional Northern Ireland heats of last year's Great British Menu and previously worked as head chef of Bar 44 in Cowbridge, before which he was head chef at the Low Wood hotel in Windermere in the Lake District.