The owners of a successful Warwickshire chain of pubs are set to open a new Greek restaurant in Leamington town centre.
Taverna Meraki will be the latest venture of Matt & Alex Crowther, owners of Pug Pubs Limited which operates The Royal Pug, The Fat Pug, and coffee shop Procaffeinate in Leamington, The Black Pug in Warwick, and The Lazy Pug in Shipston.
The new restaurant started life as a takeaway business during lockdown, which saw many customers order its food again and again.
And it will now have a permanent home on Regent Street at the site of the former Café Rouge after Leamington-based property agents Wareing & Company secured a deal.
Matt said: “I’d always had ambitions of opening some sort of Greek restaurant as I’d worked there for four years and loved the food.
“When we founded our first pub, The Fat Pug in 2012, we asked our friend from Greece, Yannis, to come over and work with us at the business, with the possible idea of starting a Greek restaurant at some point.
“Pug Pubs did very well, but when lockdown hit, we realised our pub offering did not translate well to delivery and we needed to come up with something new.
“This was the right time for us to finally start our Greek food idea, firstly as a delivery business. Customers loved the gyros, souvlaki and other authentic Greek dishes we served up. When lockdown was lifted, we toured the business around various food shows, with a similar response from customers.
“It was amazing to see how well it did, and many people asked us where they could go for a sit-down meal. That was when we realised we needed a permanent restaurant.”
Matt approached Bill Wareing, owner of Wareing & Company, who took them through various options in the area before narrowing it down to a few locations.
And when Matt visited the former Café Rouge on Regent Street – which has stood empty for around 18 months - the decision was simple for him.
“I just knew it was the one,” he added. “We wanted a building in the centre of Leamington, preferably with existing amenities and that didn’t require too much work. And Café Rouge ticked all the boxes.
“Bill’s knowledge of exactly which units offered what was incredibly useful, and meant the process of finding a suitable base was far easier than it might have been.
“We’re right in the middle of fitting the restaurant out and are looking forward to opening just before the summer.”
Bill added: “This building is in a great central location being right next to the Royal Priors Shopping Centre and many other restaurants.
“This deal is yet another sign that Leamington’s food scene is continuing to grow despite the external pressures on the economy.
“Taverna Meraki will be a fantastic new addition to the town centre and to the Pug Pubs brand and we’re looking forward to it opening later this year.”