Pie and mash restaurant and takeaway F. Cooke set to open in South Street in Bishop's Stortford for Christmas
Pie and mash is to be added to the restaurant menu in Bishop's Stortford town centre next week.
After a tense wait, Stansted resident Fred Cooke has secured planning permission from East Herts Council to convert the former Carphone Warehouse in South Street into a pie and mash restaurant and takeaway. It is set to open on Thursday (Dec 2).
The 52-year-old is the fifth generation of the Cooke pie and mash dynasty, founded in 1862, and continuing that tradition in Bishop's Stortford is a long-cherished dream for the father of two, who will run the shop with wife Zoë.
He said: "I've been waiting for a prime spot like this."
Mum Brenda, who ran the family's Dalston eatery with husband Fred for more than 40 years, will be keeping a watchful eye on the new venture.
The next generation – Freddy, an 18-year-old Bishop's Stortford College student, and his sister Sunny, 20, who is on a textile degree course at Loughborough University in Leicestershire – have already learned the ropes at Cooke's pop-up pie and mash nights.
That fanbase Fred and his family have built up at the Rose and Crown in Bentfield Road, Stansted, can expect the same tried and tested menu in Stortford.
A new kitchen has been built where Fred will be producing meat pies to a recipe handed down from his forefathers that remains a closely guarded secret. Gravy will be available as an alternative to the parsley liquor that is a traditional accompaniment.
A team of 10 has been recruited to staff the traditionally-tiled shop, which will also serve stewed and jellied eels to up to 30 diners at a time, six days a week, from 10am to 6pm.
Customers will cross a mosaic threshold Fred has copied from the grade II listed original at his family's first business and commissioned a modern take for the wall of his South Street outlet.
Elsewhere in the town centre, sourdough pizza specialist Franco Manca is set to gets its teeth into the former Bill's restaurant in North Street.
The chain – which began as a single outlet in Brixton market in 1986 and now has 56 branches across the country – has applied to install a pizza oven and adapt the grade II-listed Bill's, which did not reopen after closing in March 2020 during the first lockdown at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the former Lathams furniture and furnishings store along the street, James Ford has begun the fit-out for his new flagship store. The Dunmow businessman will offer a range of furniture, soft furnishings and gifts at Fordes Home.
Gina Thomas, manager of traders' support body Bishop's Stortford BID (Business Improvement District), said: "Bishop's Stortford has weathered the Covid-19 storm, thanks to resilience shown by the businesses and the great community support.
"As we start to build back up, we're seeing a variety of new businesses choose to open their doors in town. This is just the boost we need for our town centre. We're a growing area and we have a developing high street offering.
"These experienced business people have chosen our town for their next store and we should be very proud."