Matt Denwood HASH Edited Scaled

Indie of the Month: HASH, Crowngate Shopping Centre in Worcester

13 December, 2022
Next up in our series highlighting the fantastic independents creating unique retail and leisure experiences, we speak to Matt Denwood – founder of HASH restaurant in the Crowngate Shopping Centre in Worcester – about his ambitions for the new restaurant concept, and why he picked a shopping centre for its launch.
Matt Denwood HASH Edited Scaled

What’s the story behind the opening of HASH at the Crowngate Shopping Centre?

We launched HASH in August, following several months of searching for the appropriate building. As a hospitality team, four of us have worked together for more than 10 years, notably (in Worcester terms!) at The Old Rectifying House which was listed in The Michelin Guide and had a very good reputation for its a la carte offering.

Most people assume we left The Old Rec due to the constant problems with flooding from The River Severn. Whilst this is, to a large extent, true, in reality the impetus to leave that the floods provided coincided with us all aiming to do something different with regard to hospitality in Worcester.

I myself was growing a little frustrated at the increasing formality of services at The Old Rec. I’m also not entirely sure that many ‘fine dining’ restaurants will prosper in a cost-of-living crisis and generally wanted to launch something that was more fun, less rigid and allowed people to have a far greater degree of control over how much money they wanted to spend on a meal out!

It needed to be physically smaller also. I love that we can now see everything that’s going on, from any point in the restaurant. It makes it far easier to communicate with our guests.

What is the specific USP for HASH that’s helping to draw the Worcester crowds in?

We have a stated aim to provide the best breakfast and brunch in Worcester.

Additionally, unlike our traditional competitors, we offer an early evening ‘supper club’ which allows our head chef a great deal of freedom to provide a constantly changing menu of interesting, clean, simple plated dishes that appeal to a crowd who just want to drop-in for good, quick food with a cocktail or carafe of wine and then go about the rest of their night.

It’s particularly busy between 5pm-6.30pm which fuels my belief that people are currently aiming more and more to start an evening earlier and finish it earlier.

Why did you choose Crowngate and what benefits has this location brought to the business?

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, I very quickly became convinced that the landlord The Crown Estate is sincere in its desire to see more independents in the centre. It’s easy to imagine that most shopping centres would spend the bulk of their time trying to entice big chain stores into their units. Whilst Crowngate has its fair share of such companies, it’s clear from a stroll around that it is also targeting and helping local independent businesses.

It felt pretty good to get all the support we needed during the consultation process, the refit and early days of trading. Someone was always at the end of a phone if we needed them and, in most cases, the centre manager would pop-in to help deal with any issues. As a sole owner it can’t be over-emphasised how useful it was to be able to seek an additional council.

Other factors included the fact the unit itself was in close to immaculate condition – the centre has high occupancy and is kept looking clean and welcoming at all times and we found ourselves in a small community of other hospitality venues. The agreement that we put in place was highly appealing and gave us a lot of security at the outset.

In terms of trading levels, we have been surprised at the constant footfall outside our restaurant. Obviously, we knew it was pretty busy – we didn’t realise just how busy though. For the first couple of weeks we simply struggled to cope! Once we changed a few systems however we’re now overjoyed that we’re pretty much constantly busy and we're forging lots of new relationships with repeat customers.

You can find out more about HASH, and follow its progress, here:

If you’re an independent retailer looking to secure a store in Worcester, get in touch today with Nick Symons, Lisa Hardy and Filippa Mudd today to discuss opportunities at Crowngate!

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