After a wholesale makeover late last year, Camberley Theatre is reaping the rewards of serving up the very best of British in its newly-refurbished café.
The Knoll Road theatre did away with its tired wooden interior in September, opting instead for a sleek, modern look serving some of the country’s favourite dishes.
As part of a proposed new cultural quarter of the town, near Camberley Library and Surrey Heath Museum, the theatre café is forging a new identity as a valuable community hub.
Some eight months after outgoing mayor of Surrey Heath Beverley Harding, relaunched the venue, marketing manager Samantha Watson said trade had come on leaps and bounds.
“We’re very pleased with the result,” she said. “It has really added to the cultural value of the business to have a high quality food offering here.
“If people come for a show, we can now offer them another exceptional experience to go with that – I think the work has opened up the theatre to a broader array of customers. It’s friendly, welcoming, good quality and extremely good value.”
Open from 10am for teas, coffees and cakes, through lunch, afternoon snacks and evening meals on show nights, the theatre is more accessible than ever.
Activity organisers and community groups are beginning to adopt the café as their own, from children’s arts and crafts to harp recitals, sewing classes and WI meetings.
“We have so many new people coming through the door so it’s vital what we offer is appealing,” said Mrs Watson. “We’ve pushed the classics, the best of British, and they’re proving so popular, especially the burgers and fish and chips.
“But the menu is varied. We have great salads, the Greek salad with feta, olives and red onion is popular, plus a very wide range of sandwiches.
“We see it as a real community asset. It’s been a natural progression since the relaunch. It’s somewhere everyone can make use of whether you're after a peaceful spot to read a newspaper or take part in group activities. There’s a real buzz here now.”
Perhaps the most outlandish feature of the menu, nestling between the likes of sundried tomato, mozzarella and olive crostinis, is that childhood favourite – a fish finger sandwich.
“We picked the things people want to eat,” said Mrs Watson. “I don’t think many of us would admit it, but there’s something about a fish finger sandwich that is so good. Sometimes, it’s just what you want.
“There are specials and one-offs during the week though, so there is always variety. We can also accommodate people with specific dietary requirements, if we're notified.”
One feature the café is looking to grow are its dinner shows, which started with a sold out Fawlty Towers night earlier this year.
There are further shows in the pipeline now set around popular British comedies, starting with ‘Allo ‘Allo! and Father Ted.
Mrs Watson added the feedback so far had been extremely positive.
“It’s really vindicated our decision to redevelop the café,” she said. “It’s a friendly and relaxing place for people to come and spend some time at the heart of the town centre, without breaking the bank.”
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