The team behind Plymouth’s hit cafe Rockets and Rascals have opened a new restaurant in Devonport’s ‘flatiron’ Crown Hotel following its £1m refurbishment. The new Terra Nova Cafe is named after the ship used by Devonport-born Captain Robert Falcon Scott on his ill-fated mission to the South Pole.
In fact, the Terra Nova location opened its doors on March 29, exactly 110 years after Captain Scott’s death in Antarctica and is not far from Mount Wise’s memorial statue to one of the sons most famous of Plymouth. Its arrival is also being seen as further evidence of Devonport’s transformation from post-war seedy to one of Plymouth’s most sought-after areas.
The outlet is the third business now run by Rockets and Rascals boss Steve Toze, following the opening of the Black Cat Surf Club on Plymstock Broadway. And like that spot and Rockets and Rascals, Terra Nova Cafe will serve the kind of “brunch, lunch and all-day coffee” that the company has become known for.
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Jason Green, manager of Terra Nova, said the cafe has created three full-time and two part-time positions with more staff likely to be hired. He said: “The opening has gone very well and we have had a very good reception. It’s exciting to be part of the transformation of this area.”
The 26-deck cafe has been created on the ground floor of the former five-storey Crown Hotel. It will also have outdoor seating in the future and will extend into the basement where a “corner” is being created, with a sofa and a large table.
The building is one of the few 18th century buildings to survive the Second World War bombing of Plymouth. Built in the 1790s, opened as a hotel in 1880 and listed in the 1990s, the building was last used as a base for the Routeways charity before it moved.
The building has a “flatiron” shape, a name given to wedge-shaped corner buildings after the famous Flatiron stack in New York, USA. It was bought by husband-and-wife developers Jim and Lisa Woodley in 2016 for around £200,000 and later underwent a £1m renovation.
Mr and Mrs Woodley’s Direct Property Services, which specializes in rejuvenating older buildings, transformed the top three floors into 10 flats, a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments, all of which are now fully let .
The ground floor and basement were to be used as commercial premises, subject to planning permission, and the owners have now given the land to the Terra Nova business.
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Woodley said renovating the building had been “quite a challenge” due to its listed status and required the removal and replacement of 70 sash windows to retain its 18th-century appearance. But he said proudly: “It’s a beautiful conversion and I’m happy with the way it’s all come together. Our business is about breathing new life into old buildings and I enjoy it.”
Since the first decade of the 21st century, a huge amount of investment has gone into Devonport, replacing tired post-war flats with new housing and regenerating old industrial and naval land. The Vision housing development at the former South Yard Enclave in Devonport Dockyard, Real Ideas’ transformation of the Guildhall and Market Hall and Mount Wise (Devon) Ltd’s work at the former Admiralty House Naval Base in side of the cricket field, they have been attractive. – Capture of examples.
Woodley said: “A huge amount of private investment has gone into this area. We wouldn’t have taken this on if it wasn’t for the ongoing development of Mount Wise.”
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