Aiden Byrne turns The Church Green into a grill and eyes Manchester for a fine dining restaurant

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fine dining restaurant Chef Beef Aiden byrne

Aiden Byrne says he has learnt a lot from owning his own business as he makes the change for his first restaurant from fine dining to a grill
Aiden Byrne says he has learnt a lot from owning his own business as he makes the change for his first restaurant from fine dining to a grill
Aiden Byrne has decided to change The Church Green, the pub he bought in Lymm three and a half years ago, into a British Grill because it was no longer financially viable to run it as a fine dining restaurant.

Byrne, who left his job as head chef at The Dorchester Grill at the beginning of 2009 to take over the venue in Cheshire​, told BigHospitality he had been forced to reassess the business and make changes to the operation to safeguard its future.

"If we'd have carried on doing what we were doing, I would have shut down in six months. It's a tough business and you have to listen to what people want," he said.

"Having your own restaurant is very different to being head chef in a big place like The Dorchester. It's like chalk and cheese. I've changed in the last three and a half years, I've learnt a lot."

Meet customer demand

The Church Green, which Byrne runs with partner Sarah Broadley had been operated as a fine dining restaurant with a separate area serving traditional pub food to continue to meet demands of its previous clientele.

Despite building up a loyal following in the fine dining restaurant, Byrne said trade was not brusque enough during the week to enable it to continue as it was.

"The restaurant was busy on Fridays and Saturdays, but in the week we just weren't getting the people in. I had five chefs in the kitchen waiting to work and it wasn't sustainable," he said.

British Grill

The new format restaurant - to be known as The Church Green British Grill - is built on the success of the British Grill restaurant Byrne operates at the Macdonald Hotel in Craxton Wood.

A new menu, which will be served throughout the whole venue, includes steaks, a burger made with 85 per cent chuck steak and 15 per cent bone marrow and 'homely classics' such as cottage pie. Front-of-house has had a minor refurbishment and the kitchen is one of the first in the UK to have an Inka Charcoal Oven​.

He said: "I've spent a bit on the new grill, but the quality of the meat coming out is amazing. The guys in the kitchen are enjoying workng on it as well."

He added: "We've been open as a grill for just over a week and I'm getting as much of a buzz out of this as I was five years ago at The Dorchester. One of the reasons is seeing the smiles on people's faces - that's what I love."

Fine dining

Despite changing the focus of The Church Green, Byrne, who will be competiting in The Great British Menu again this year, still plans to keep his hand in with a fine dining restaurant.

The chef revealed he had been looking at potential sites in Manchester for his new venture. "I have a couple of sites in mind," he said. "It needs to be right and will not be too stuffy. Manchester is a younger market and so we'll need to keep it modern and funky. Once we've found that I'll probably base myself there."

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