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Former taxi drivers open Nala Brasserie in Cleethorpes

Childhood friends who trained together at college to be chefs have realised a burning ambition to own their own business and bring a taste of french cuisine to the resort.

Former taxi drivers open Nala Brasserie in Cleethorpes

The Nala Brasserie situated on the Kingsway, Cleethorpes has taken the place of the former Captain's Table restaurant and behind the venture are Mark Piggott and Nathan Garner.

The duo were both born in Cleethorpes but attended Humberston and Wintringham Schools respectively.

Although both have a strong background in the restaurant trade they also spent 10 years as taxi drivers!

Nathan, 44, is fully retired from the profession but Mark, 44, has retained his taxi licence but has parked it to one side to concentrate on getting the brasserie up and running.

He explained how the business venture came about during a soft open launch for family, friends and suppliers this week. "I saw a photo of this place up for sale last July and said to Nathan, what about this?

The owners and staff of Nala Brasserie, from left, Katie Tatam, Sommer Johnson, owners Mark Piggott and Nathan Garner, Terri Hewitt and Jana Muller

"Nathan has the skills but was happy where he was, I had the drive but didn't want to do it by myself.

"I wanted someone I could trust and it went from there and we've never looked back.

"We want it to be a relaxed brasserie with good quality food, so it's a classic french brasserie with a simple, relaxed set up."

Read more: Totally Locally campaign launched to encourage shopping at independent businesses

The rather unusual name was also something the longstanding friends of 28 years thought long and hard about, as Mark continued: "There was only ever going to be two names; the Saltwood Brasserie or Nala, suggested by Nathan."

To avoid confusion with an eatery of a similar name in the area, they opted for Nala and discovered it had several meanings.

"In African it means success and in Hindu mythology it's recognised as a great cook who created the first cook book, enthused Mark who has been married to Anna for two of the 14 years they've been together and have three children between them.

"We thought that's got to be it, it made sense."

The team of 11 are excited to be making their stamp in the resort and feel passionate about creating the right impression from the start, using local suppliers where possible.

Mark continued: "Nathan's food is amazing so we've got to match the quality of the food with the service.

"We make everything in-house and extra ideas we have will help us stand out."

Mark is also adamant that they are open to feedback from customers.

"We are not coming in with the attitude that we know everything," he assured.

"If things don't work we will change and try different things.

"I would like to see people come back - that means we are doing something right and people are enjoying what you are doing."

Some of the nibbles on offer at the Nala Brasserie opening

Starters on the menu include salmon gravalax, pressed ham hock and classic French onion soup with cheese croute. And for mouthwatering mains, there are more classic dishes to be found with asparagus, spinach and goats cheese cannelloni with ratatouille smoked paprika oil, alongside lamb loin and braised beef blade steak.

And the desserts are also straight from the traditional fayre, with cheesecake, creme brulee, continental cheeses and chocolate truffle pave with orange marmalade and seasonal berries!

A lighter bites menu keeps things simple with a selection of sandwiches and sides with a day menu including prawn cocktail, gnocchi bake and frittatas.

Nathan's background is at The George in Colchester and The George at Stamford.

He has been married to Donna for 22 years and they have a daughter and a son. He is equally as enthusiastic as Mark to see the brasserie go from strength to strength. He has taken on the role of head chef and said: "I'm obviously excited and nervous - the whole sha-bang!

"I think in modern cooking there's a lot of fads and fashions and cliques.

"The longevity of these are sometimes very short, as cooking is fashionable on television.

"What I find is that some of the old traditions get lost.

"We are not going for a fad, the brasserie style is relaxed dining but with quality in the food and service.

The stylish interior of the new brasserie

"I try and do things in the correct way - having been in cooking for 27 years, I have cooked a lot of food.

"There's nothing wrong with bringing traditional dishes like coq-au-vin onto the menu - it's bringing old dishes into a modern light.

"We are creating a standard from the service to the back of the house so that in five years time we can be very proud.

"Mark's the driving force, I trust him - the trust is a massive thing."

The duo were also keen to give credit to friend Carl Thomas, attributing a lot of the design and ideas to him.

Nathan added: "Carl has been fantastic behind the scenes, putting together the business and giving advice on presentation.

"His work is also on the walls."

From Monday to Saturday, they serve a lighter bites menu from 12noon to 6pm with evening meal options from 6pm to 9pm. On Sundays, they are open from noon to 4pm where you can enjoy a classic roast.

The finishing touches are being added to their website www.nalacleethorpes.co.uk and they can also be found on Facebook.

News Courtesy: www.humberbusiness.com


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