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A vegan pub is opening in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 11:11 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:11 27 November 2019

Geoff Bligh and Philip Rivers at the coffee bar at Hank's Deli & Shop in Ipswich

Geoff Bligh and Philip Rivers at the coffee bar at Hank's Deli & Shop in Ipswich

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The owners of Hank's Deli hope to have the new venture up-and-running by January 2020.

A couple from Ipswich are set to open Suffolk's first ever completely vegan pub in January.

Geoff Bligh and Philip Rivers, who started vegan enterprise Peninsula Foods in March, flinging the doors open to Hank's Deli on Lloyds Avenue in the summer, are behind the new venture.

While the location is currently a secret as paperwork is signed off, what we can tell you is the pub is a listed property in Ipswich town centre.

This is exciting news for vegans in the east of England, who'll have access to a huge range of vegan beers and wines, and a menu of what Geoff calls "naughty and nice" pub dishes.

The huge success of Hank's has been the driving force behind the new venture. "We're getting busier and busier," Geoff says. "Many days of the week we have queues and people are struggling to get a table, and are wanting us to do evenings. We started doing Friday pop-ups to meet demand. We knew we had to get bigger premises and were acutely aware that what's missing in town is a vegan evening meal place so a pub was a natural fit for us. We'll expand what we're offering but keep the theme and the ideas the same. The same customer service and accessible food, but in a pub environment."

Geoff says he and Philip hope to bring vibrancy back to the part of Ipswich where the pub (which has about 80-90 covers inside and out) is located. "The space is beautiful and quirky and fits with the style of the deli."

They're hoping to open during the third week of January and, don't worry, the deli will stay too.

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So, what can pub-goers expect?

"Our burgers and chicken replacements have been really popular but we want to balance those with healthier vegan dishes, so it will be a combination. We'll have 'fish' and chips and 'chicken wings' and loaded nachos, but we'll also have nice, higher end vegan food like curries.

"The response to us at the deli has been incredible. We have a real mix of vegan and non-vegan customers - good food speaks for itself and the reviews have been amazing. We're also finding we're great for people with allergies. We have a lot of parents bringing in children who can't have dairy or eggs. They smile on their faces when they're able to have a piece of cake is wonderful. And we want to replicate that feeling at the pub."

In addition to food, every single drink on the menu at the new venue will, of course be vegan, and a range of grown-up soft drinks will complement the beers, ciders, wines and spirits, including Suffolk-made LA Brewery kombucha.

"We now have seven full time employees with us, and with the pub two of our staff will move into management roles," adds Geoff. "The whole team is going to grow and everyone is absolutely buzzing. We all can't wait to get going. I think the world is ready for a bit more vegan!"

Watch this space for news of the pub location and opening.

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