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Scratch Consultancy expands with landmark Essex pub investment

Scratch Consultancy has taken the lease on its second site with Star Pubs & Bars – The Compasses in Chelmsford, Essex – as it looks to build an estate of five pubs with Star across Essex and North Kent.

The companies will undertake a joint £250k refurbishment of The Compasses before reopening it in early November after nearly three years’ closure. 14 new jobs will be created.

The investment will upgrade the well-known local to a high standard, transforming it into a great quality family-friendly pub serving outstanding food. The layout will incorporate a traditional bar with screens for watching sports and a 100-seater dining area plus a stunning new 20-seater private dining room. A stylish 60-cover all-weather alfresco area will also be developed.

A kitchen refit will enable the pub to offer restaurant quality food, which is expected to account for 40% of sales. The menu will focus on gourmet pub classics, such as burgers and fish and chips. All the dishes – right down to the gravy and sauces – will be freshly prepared from scratch using ingredients sourced from local suppliers.

A carefully curated drinks selection of premium lagers and spirits, classic cocktails and modern eclectic wines will complement the food.

Scratch Consultancy Ltd co-founder, Ben Mulvaney has worked in hospitality for 20 years, heading up food and beverages in five-star boutique hotels, bars and restaurants such as Hotel du Vin in Birmingham, The Trafalgar Hilton in London and Theatre by Gary Rhodes in Dubai.

The company opened its first pub – The Blue Lion in Great Baddow – in 2020, increasing trade 500%.

Ben said, “We aim to deliver restaurant quality food and table service at pub prices in a relaxed pub environment. People are seeking independently operated pubs and restaurants, and we’re targeting suburban locations where there’s a shortage of good places to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity.

'Our expansion plans are built around leasing rather than buying pubs as it ties up less revenue, allowing us to grow more rapidly whilst maintaining cash flow. We can also tap into Star’s support and resources – it’s a win-win for both parties.”

Added Andrew Smurthwaite, Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager, “We’re delighted to back the growth of Scratch Consultancy. Bringing a high-end hospitality approach to the traditional pub is working fantastically for them at The Blue Lion. Residents have been asking them to open a second pub. The Compasses is just the location and I’m sure it will be an equal success.”