New restaurant opens on site of former Beghins store in St Helier

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THE owner of St Helier’s newest restaurant hopes the venue will play a part in changing the character of the town centre.

Brasserie Colmar opened on the King Street site formerly occupied by shoe retailer Beghins on Monday, and serves a range of classic French dishes including steak frites, coquilles St Jacques, shellfish bisque and confit de canard.

Owner David Voisin said that the opening marked the culmination of an 18-month project for the site, which he had originally envisaged would house another retailer after Beghins closed in February 2019.

The shoe shop was one of Jersey’s oldest high street stores, having traded since 1842.

He said: ‘The Covid pandemic put paid to the prospect of getting another retail tenant and meant we were seeking permission for a change-of-use within a retail area.

‘The new Island Plan is a bit more flexible than the old one but there is still a presumption against changing.

‘We made what we felt were some very convincing arguments, and got support from the parish, Chamber of Commerce, politicians and other operators.’

Mr Voisin added: ‘I think the days of having a town-centre “core” made up entirely of shops are over. St Helier can become much more mixed use, with restaurants, coffee shops and boutique retailers alongside established shops.’

The venue will offer brasserie food from lunchtime until 9.30pm every day except Sundays, as well as expanding to a breakfast service in the coming weeks.

‘We want to be serving high-quality food, but without being fine dining. Some customers will come in for a Croque Monsieur and a coffee for £11 but if people want to push the boat out and share a dozen oysters, a Chateaubriand steak and a nice bottle of wine, then we can cater for them as well,’ Mr Voisin said.

The venue will employ around 35 staff across the brasserie and its sibling venue, Café Colmar, which is due to open as a French-style pavement café on an adjoining site in Broad Street. Both ventures are named after Colmar, a town in the Alsace region of France.

After a deliberately low-key opening at 11am on Monday, the venue aims to trade in a higher gear by the end of the month as more employees come on board and all staff become used to the new operation.

Mr Voisin started his career in hospitality, working in the hotel trade before spending 25 years working in the trust industry. His partners in the new venture include David Parish, who operates Cheffins at Beaumont.

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