Gin school plan for Chelmsford cafe

A former cafe in Chelmsford is set to be transformed into a gin school and distillery.

The shop, which was formerly the Farm Shop Café and then latterly Pause, is set to become a bar and shop on the ground floor, a gin distillery on the first floor and a gin school on the second floor.

There will be outdoor pavement seating to both the front and side of the building with removable seating area barriers.

A planning application submitted to Chelmsford City Council proposes a change of use for the early 19th century building from a café to a bar.

A licence application has also been submitted to the council for the sale of alcohol on Thursdays from midday until midnight, Friday and Saturdays from midday until 2am and Sundays from midday until 11pm.

The business plan comes as sales of gin rocket.

It is now the UK’s favourite spirit, having overtaken whisky, with over a quarter of the population purchasing gin in 2019, up from just over 10 per cent from four years previously.

Record gin sales, with the equivalent of almost 28 million bottles sold, were documented in the summer of 2018.

HM Revenue and Customs figures published in February showed that exports of UK gin rose by 15 per cent in 2018, compared to the previous year, with sales worth £612 million.

Nikki Mendes – who has founded the Only Way is Gin – says the business will “bring a new gin experience to the vibrant city of Chelmsford” along with a “range of boutique craft gins, with botanicals celebrating its home county and landscape”.

A statement accompanying the application said: “The high street now needs more than shops to entice people to visit.

“It needs experiences. Millennials ignited the experience economy and it is now booming with all age groups.

“Consumers buy on the back of an experience, and they also have more of a preference for locally produced. The Only Way is Gin Ltd is not just a bar/shop. It is a gin destination.

“The bar in the premises will house the beautiful working still, one of only eight in the country, where customers and gin enthusiasts can see the gin being made. A first for Essex.

“The gin school will also be the first to open in the county, and should prove to be a key attraction for Chelmsford as it is only a 35 minute rail link from the capital.

“The gin school allows guests to make their own bespoke bottle of gin, learning about the history of gin in a beautiful building, overlooking Moulsham Street.

“The bar will operate also as a retail outlet, allowing the company to sell direct to customers who have enjoyed the gin produced on the premises.”

Advertisement

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter