Bishop's Stortford pizza parlour Dough&CO relocates from Anchor Street leisure centre to former Zizzi restaurant in Market Square as part of expansion plan
Entrepreneur Christopher Sharman is relocating his Bishop's Stortford pizzeria as he ramps up expansion of his Dough&CO brand.
The former chef at The Thatchers in Hatfield Heath, who learned his skills from Marco Pierre White, will open his new Market Square branch in the former Zizzi restaurant on Thursday January 20.
While staff get to grips with service in the new 65-cover branch, for about a month takeaways will be handled at the former McDonald's premises he opened in the Anchor Street leisure complex in September 2019.
Then they will transfer to Market Square along with takeaways from Mr Sharman's Burger Amour eatery, which he opened in May 2020 next door to Dough&CO in Anchor Street, in a unit formerly occupied by KFC.
Apart from his business in Bury St Edmunds, that means seven branches of his burger chain operate as takeaways only, using "dark kitchens" in his artisan pizza parlours, with a ninth outlet about to open in Swindon.
He has 10 Dough&CO restaurants with three more opening in Sheffield, Frome and Bexley Heath early this year. His aim is to take the total to at least 15 this year – 25 if he can – with 50 as the target for 2023.
He said: "To be honest, I feel we've gone quite slowly – the pandemic has not held us back, but we're looking to ramp things up."
Mr Sharman said that as part of expansion, he had also looked to upgrade existing locations, with moves in Sudbury and now Stortford, to build on their success.
Usually, fit-outs take two to three weeks, but the Market Square building where Zizzi stopped trading during the first Covid-19 lockdown required far more extensive renovation, with plumbing and electrical work required.
He said that regular Dough&CO diners would notice a higher specification throughout the new restaurant and a refreshed menu with a separate drinks selection and choice of cocktails.
There will still be the same emphasis on authentic Italian ingredients, despite Brexit rules causing delivery delays and ramping up the price.
Mr Sharman said the decision to leave the European Union also made staff recruitment challenging, although as a flexible independent brand he had not faced the same shortages as larger corporations.
Dough&CO's decision to move to Market Square restores the building's original hospitality role.
Although the 18th-century, three-storey building was part of Clement Joscelyne's furnishing business from the early 1900s to the 1980s, latterly trading as The Other Place, it began life as the Curriers Arms pub. It took its name from the leather trade that once flourished in Bishop's Stortford as a currier dressed and coloured tanned leather.
According to Paul Ailey's www.stortfordhistory.co.uk website, it was first recorded in the will of James Meredith, husbandman of Little Hadham, who died in 1771. By 1830, the landlord was James Franklin, who was tried and acquitted of murdering his wife, Mary. In the 19th century, it was owned, like most town pubs, by Water Lane brewery Hawkes & Co.
After the Curriers Arms closed in 1904, it was sold at auction by G E Sworders & Sons for £1,500. The buyer, Mr T Swatheridge, was acting on behalf of the Rhodes Memorial Committee. It wanted to demolish the pub and replace it with assembly rooms and a drill hall, funded by public subscription to commemorate the death in 1902 of Cecil Rhodes, who was born in the town.
The plan was to honour the colonialist and mining magnate, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896 and founded the colonies of Southern and Northern Rhodesia, renamed Zimbabwe and Zambia respectively. But it floundered and just the drill hall – now Turkish and Italian restaurant Pircio – was built.