Ely Court finally gets back to business


TWO new businesses, Spicy ‘N’ Nice and Montagus, opened up in Ely Court, the arcade linking Royal Victoria Place (RVP) shopping centre with Camden Road, on Saturday January 6.

There will also be a new bar opening at Ely Court in the coming weeks called Kirthon Bar, launched by the owner of the Indian restaurant, Kirthon, located on The Pantiles.

They join the family-owned coffee shop and record store, Even Flow and bubble tea shop, The Thirsty Fish, on the site of the former food court.

The accessible location between RVP and the centre of town make the premises in Ely Court an attractive opportunity for any new business venture.

Of the thirteen units available, there are currently eight still left empty, although RVP Centre Manager Nicky Blanchard revealed to the Times that they are ‘working hard’ on filling the arcade and have had a ‘lot of interest’ in the remaining units.

Customers of newly opened Caribbean restaurant Spicy ‘N’ Nice Jerk Smoke House can expect an array of authentic cuisine from the region including jerk chicken, curry goat as well as the Jamaican national dish, ackee and saltfish.

Spicy ‘N’ Nice owner Astley Gordon said that it ‘feels great’ to have opened in Ely Court and they have so far had a ‘fantastic response’ from customers in the town.

“Cooking has always been a passion of mine from a very young age in the Caribbean and I have continued that up until the present time. Since 2014, I was sort of semi-retired from the IT industry and so I have been practising my cooking skills and I decided to go back out in the working field and thought let me try something different. Now I am a proud owner of a restaurant.”

He added: “Most of the customers that have come in so far have had previous experience with the cuisine and have been very knowledgeable on the food we offer.

“Many of them often go to the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica, so I have been really impressed with the knowledge of the cuisine from those in the local community.”

Montagus is a rather unique offering with a chameleon-like appearance.

During the day the business will serve artisan coffees and grilled sandwiches before transforming in the evening into a wine bar with a selection of small plates and barbecue-style food.

These are not the only changes happening at the business as Montagus owner Sammy Forway told the Times that he will be rebranding the relatively new store this week to Stone and Coal.

Mr Forway, who has worked in the arts and events industry for almost twenty years, previously ran a pop-up barbecue kitchen in Essex under the same name and therefore plans to continue the pre-established brand in his unit at Ely Court.

He explained that he ‘fell in love’ with the town when he moved to the area eight years ago after the birth of his son and has wanted to start a business in Tunbridge Wells for some time.

He added: “I have been looking at these spaces for quite a while. I have seen them empty and felt that they needed new life brought into them.

“I want to help them [RVP] get these areas back to where they were and get a good little community going. This could be a really nice part of town; it’s definitely got a lot of potential.”

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