September 22 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Aurora restaurant - a star of the Waterfront
Aurora Restaurant is celebrating 18 months in business.
And director Callum Hewitt doesn’t know where the time has gone.
“It has been absolutely amazing,” he said.
“We have been here 18 months and had our second Christmas, and now we will be having our second summer which will be nice.
“When you are dreaming about something like this, for years and years, it is wonderful. You have to pinch yourself.”
Aurora has a prime spot in the marina at Orwell Quay, overlooking the Haven Marina and berths where visiting naval craft, larger yachts and tall ships tie up.
Recently there was the unexpected arrival of 24 Dutch sailing ships, carrying university students, and lead by a Netherlands Royal Navy craft.
I sat with Callum on a Monday, the only quiet day in the restaurant and a day to catch up on admin and organise bookings.
A couple had already been in to plan their wedding celebration at Aurora, and the phone rang for a copuple of Saturday night bookings, weeks ahea.
He said: “We book Saturdays six weeks in advance,” he said, “and we have had two or three weddings in the 18 months.
“A number of these will be happening this year. We are careful not to do too many. We don’t want to close too often.
“It has to be the whole venue. We want them to take both floors.
“It is a lovely thing to do. For us it is a great way to spread the word we are here.”
Aurora is a family-owned and run business, with Callum and his dad Stephen as the directors, and his brother Toby also works there, in a variety of roles.
“It is great when we can each be on one floor, front of house, it works very well,” said Callum,
People in the restaurant trade say it takes something like two years to build a fine reputation, from a standing start.
So Callum is pleased with the progress they have made.
“We had a successful first year, and people know we are here now.
“We recruited some great characters and many of them are still with us.
“Any restaurant relies on the quality of the chefs. We have a great team here, with head chef Stuart Drane.
“We have an exciting new al a carte menu that Stuart has developed for this year and just launched.
“You have to keep innovating and moving forward.
“We make everything we can in-house. We are a modern British restaurant and locally sourced for quality, and the best of everything.
“Icecream, bread, sauces are all made here.
“There are seven chefs in the kitchen on Tuesday at work. preparing everything.”
The striking building had been proposed as an art gallery or venue, until the Hewitt’s invested and converted into Aurora.
“I fell in love with the building years and years ago, and read about it in the Star. I used to come down here with my brother.
“I worked in a number of restaurants, including the Vanilla Pod in Ipswich and bars and restaurants in London.
“You have to enjoy the business. It is a 9-5 job, planning and preparing while your customers are still at work.
“Then you have to work your hours again, and might not be done until half-past two in the morning.
“But is is very satisfying.
“People come along and are surprised to find us here, and to discover the Waterfront too.
“They say it doesn’t seem like Ipswich, and they are discovering us down here.”
“The building went up at the same time as nearby apartments and houses, and is one of the best spots in the Waterfront.
“We can see across to Spirit and Fairline, we get visiting navy ships and Tall Ships. There is always something going on.
“This is an absolutely lovely spot.
“We get the sun all day, and put out tables and chairs on the balcony.
“This is the only place that gets the sun all day in the marina. People can walk here, and we have our own car park too.”
Aurora was closed for a couple of weeks in January, to give the staff a well-earned break, and to make improvements to the kitchen for another busy year ahead.
“People needed a break after a busy December.
“When we re-opened with had our best ever Saturday and that has continued. We had to have two sittings for lunch on Mother’s Day.”
Aurora, Orwell Quay, Ipswich