The Old Brewery Cafe and Kitchen

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Rachael Rowe visits the Gillingham hotspot that has transformed from Moto Corsa dealership to mussels and marshmallows among the motorbikes

The Old Brewery Cafe and Kitchen

With motorbike displays in the entrance, the Old Brewery Cafe and Kitchen immediately feels like a very different cafe in Wyke, just west of Gillingham. It’s a building that has lived several lives and its latest venture is proving popular:
‘This building was built in the early 1800s and was originally Matthews & Co Brewery,’ says manager Steve Angell. ‘Then it became Talisman Antiques and was full of stone figures. In 2017 it became a bike dealership. There was a little cafe as well, called The Newt – we named it after the great crested newts that live in the ponds outside.’

The Old Brewery manager Steve Angell


In January, the newts are happily hibernating, but the lovely open space with its Italianate style ponds is ideal for alfresco dining and newt-spotting in warmer weather. Apart from giving some of Britain’s rarest newts a home, there’s more to the Old Brewery story.
‘The Newt cafe was really tiny,’ says Steve. ‘And it was also counter service only. When it became part of the motorbike dealership it became Cafe Corsa in line with the company. We won 2018 Taste of Dorset Awards (Best Independent Cafe) and were runners up in 2019. Unfortunately, Moto Corsa went into liquidation in 2022. So the Chedington Court Estate bought the premises and we became a restaurant. We also changed the name to the Old Brewery Cafe and Kitchen to reflect the building’s history.

The Old Brewery Cafe and Kitchen – All images: Rachael Rowe

‘We have expanded the cafe into what was once the dealership space, installed a bar and created more seating. We also have conference facilities on the upper floor with two meeting rooms seating 12 and 40 people. And we’ve changed from counter service to table service. We do a lot of private functions now – in the past 18 months, the business has really grown. We have to advise booking now as we are usually full – when I came in today we had four tables free but they were all booked by 11:30!
‘It’s not just locals either. We’re still very popular with bikers – they come here on their rides and stop off for something to eat. We get bikers from all over the country, because we’re a good stop if you’re driving the A303 between London and Cornwall. Car enthusiasts like coming here too. The other day we had a group of Porsche drivers, with all the cars lined up outside!’
It may no longer be a dealership, but the motorbikes are still quite a talking point – on display is part of a magnificent private collection owned by Chedington Court. Placed throughout the cafe, the current collection includes a 1980 Honda CBX 1000cc in Candy Glory Red, and a 1983 Laverda Jota. The 2020 Horex VR6 is an inline six cylinder muscle bike from Germany which boasts 1200cc and produces 163bhp at the back wheel. The decor reflects the motorbike-filled past of the building, with stylish wall art featuring bike brands such as Royal Enfield and MV Agusta.

The Old Brewery Cafe and Kitchen – All images: Rachael Rowe

Always adapting
‘We are known for our breakfasts,’ says Steve. ‘We do a mid-week roast which is very popular, and there’s also Fish Friday. Our fish is caught overnight, delivered to us and we batter it ourselves. Everything is cooked from scratch in the kitchen. We do offer cafe favourites but add other dishes, especially for our evening menus – so you’ll often find items like mussels and halloumi fries, and our chef also creates dishes especially for us. At the moment we are booking a Valentine’s special, and due to demand we’re running it not just for the 14th February but for three nights.’
‘We use local suppliers and I’m always looking to source new suppliers in the area. Our meat comes from Prime Cuts in Shaftesbury and our bread is from Lavender Blue. We use local farm eggs. Our coffee comes from 918 Coffee in Shaftesbury. At the bar, there are beers from Salcombe Brewery Gritchies, and we have Thatcher’s Cider.
‘One of the biggest challenges for the business has been changing from a small counter service style cafe to a table service restaurant. We had to make a lot of changes. As a result of the expanded cafe we had to make more parking space, and that took over a year to get agreed and finally built.
‘However, we’re also a versatile business. If there’s nothing on the menu that works for someone, we’re happy to adapt something. I’m so proud of the reputation this place now has and what my team of 16 has achieved. We have gone through lots of changes, but the team has stuck by me and helped me build the reputation that we now have.’

So what’s next?
‘We have tried opening in the evenings during November and December, and it’s been very successful. We’re open every Thursday and Friday evening, and from Easter we’ll be open on Saturday evenings too. We’re currently closed on Sundays, but we’re also planning on starting Sunday lunches.’

The Old Brewery Cafe and Kitchen,
Wyke Road, Gillingham, SP8 4NW
01747 442 164
Mon to Sat: 9am – 4.30pm
(kitchen closes at 3pm)
Thurs and Fri: 6pm – 10pm
(kitchen closes at 8.30pm)
theoldbrewerycafe.co.uk

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