Ship & Anchor proprietor Raj Chugh is expanding outside the restaurant and bar world into cafe culture, with the acquisition in December of the former Red Horse Cafe in Hillary Square. The first thing he did was change the name to The Ship Cafe, so locals could relate and recognise that both venues belong to the same family. The cafe decor is also being overhauled to reflect a similar nautical theme to the parent pub, and an ocean-themed mural will be installed.
When it comes to food, the emphasis is on fresh, home-made dishes and cabinet food, with a chef and a baker preparing everything on-site.
There is an all-day menu featuring classic breakfast and brunch dishes, such as Eggs Benedict and French Toast, plus a good selection of seafood and fresh fish, as well as a full range of pies, quiches, sandwiches and salads.
“It’s all home-made, we’re not buying anything from outside,” Raj says.
Since he took over, coffee sales have soared to the point where Altura Coffee is providing the cafe with a new coffee machine, possibly boosted by a popular ‘buy any coffee, get a free muffin’ promotion that is running until mid-February.
Future plans include installing a gelato machine, licensing the cafe and introducing special offers for Gold Card holders.
Raj says he has always wanted to run a cafe and not even the challenges of Covid-19 have dampened his enthusiasm.
“We’ve been here five years and have a very loyal clientele,” he says. “If you have good food and are good to people, they will come to you. After the first lockdown, when the Ship & Anchor reopened we had 20 to 25 people waiting outside to say ‘we’re here for you’.
“The amount of support you get here is phenomenal, so why wouldn’t you open another business? We really love it here.”