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All’s Well for Hackney restaurant born to keep staff going in lockdown

As lockdown devastated Central London’s hospitality industry, renowned chef Chantelle Nicholson was so determined to keep staff on that she launched a neighbourhood restaurant in Hackney.

When other restaurants were losing staff, the founder of Tredwells in Covent Garden launched All’s Well, a pop-up restaurant on Mare Street. The initiative enabled them to maintain employment levels, learn new skills and bond over a shared new project.

Manager Beth Morgan-Jones explained: “Covent Garden was badly affected by the pandemic – we rely heavily on businesses, tourists and theatres and, with all of that trade lost, wanted a project to keep us active and enable us to keep staff on.

“We wanted to find somewhere with a thriving community where people share our passion for sustainability – I’d lived in Hackney before and it seemed a good place to go.”

The team found a site through Appear Here (like Air B&B but with shops) and set about furnishing it – sourcing everything second-hand through Facebook marketplace and Ebay or borrowing/loaning equipment.

Beth added: “We were determined to open a restaurant without buying anything new. We worked hard to make the new restaurant happen – it changed our whole team dynamic and brought us closer.”

All’s Well opened in October 2020 – just five days later Coronavirus restrictions forced its closure for inside dining. But the team had planned for all eventualities and continued to open selling takeaway food such as lunchtime toasties and operating as a shop. They bottled up takeaway cocktails and prepared meal kits to cook at home. For a brief spell in December, they were able to trade as a restaurant again before the restrictions were back.

In January All’s Well teamed up with Dishpatch, serving a plant-based menu for delivery UK-wide to mark Veganuary. It’s a partnership that’s continued – with a different menu (not always vegan) each month.

Now the countdown is on until May 19th when both Tredwells and All’s Well will reopen. Both have a strong sustainable ethos – Tredwells won a Green Michelin Star in 2021 and All’s Well is determined to make as many zero-waste dishes as possible and to source local, ethically made ingredients.

Typical dishes include zero waste cauliflower (roasted florets, pickled stem, deep fried leaves and pureed everything else), beef from Horton House Farm in Wiltshire and Horton Farm lamb ribs with green chilli salsa.

They’ll be open for bookings and walk-ins and have a small area for outside dining. Local Buyers Club members save 10% on food.

Beth added: “This past year has been a massive learning experience. If it hadn’t been for Covid, we wouldn’t have done it. We have to pinch ourselves sometimes – this time last year we had just Tredwells, now we have two restaurants – what the team has achieved in a very short time is incredible. I’m so proud of the resilience they’ve shown while we’ve been opening and closing constantly!”

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