And then there were two

Community, Guernsey

A kitchen fire and a global pandemic might well have forced many restaurants to close their doors. Not so for owner of two local Guernsey eateries, Steve Hopkins. Not only did Steve continue to succeed with restaurant number one, but he also started planning his second enterprise in the midst of the crisis. His friends described him at the time as everything from mad to brave. His story so far suggests the latter is probably the more accurate description.

Steve has worked in the hospitality sector for his entire career and says that he fell in love with the industry from an early age – admitting to even enjoying his first part-time job as a kitchen porter. Completing a hospitality management training programme with UK chain Hotel du Vin, Steve then spent time working in Australia and New Zealand before eventually moving to Guernsey to manage a local hotel in 2015.

‘As a child, I came to Guernsey with my family twice a year and I have amazing, happy childhood memories of those times. I also recall having conversation with my friends when we left school and telling them that I would end up in Guernsey,’ he said.

It was always a dream of Steve’s to run his own business and so when he was approached about a central St Peter Port restaurant premises, he resigned his job and ploughed everything he had into Fat Rascal.

‘The concept for Fat Rascal was inspired by brunch, all day dining, fresh changing menus and a homely intimate atmosphere. The venue had to suit that concept. We launched in February 2017, and we remained true to the original concept. Brunch took off really quickly and seemed to be a relatively new concept for Guernsey. Initiatives like our wine dinners and our bottomless brunches proved very popular – and we were enjoying ourselves.’

Only 10 months later, a kitchen fire closed the restaurant for more than three months. An excellent trading year in 2019 set the restaurant back on its feet until the Covid pandemic struck a year later. A challenging time certainly, and Steve acknowledges that the business might not have survived.

‘The one thing that picked us back up was our local loyal following. Without that, we wouldn’t have survived even the fire and certainly not the pandemic. It was hugely challenging operationally, financially, and emotionally. But we survived.’

During the pandemic, Steve had his first meeting with the agents for Admiral Park, a business and residential area on the outskirts of St Peter Port, regarding the restaurant premises on the development.

‘People did question my wisdom at taking on the second restaurant, but my view was that the uncertain time we were all living through wouldn’t last forever. I wanted to look ahead to the future and this amazing opportunity wasn’t going to present itself a second time.’

The fact that the site was a blank canvas that Steve could develop to his own vision from scratch was too good to resist.

‘I knew exactly what the place was going to be. I could see it, feel it, and taste it, and it has turned out to be exactly how I had envisaged. That’s the one thing that I am most proud of – I didn’t compromise on the initial vision at any stage though at times it would have been easy to do so.’

Good Rebel opened its doors in July 2022 with its industrial feel, high ceilings, shedloads of natural light and a real ‘London vibe’ – a perfect addition to this out-of-town spot. And the name? It reflects the menu which contains a mix of healthy and not so healthy food which is successfully attracting a wide range of guests. In the week a mixture of corporate, shopping, and casual lunch visitors; at weekends young families for breakfast and long brunchers.

The next step is to open in the evenings – good news for Good Rebel regulars – sometime in May. Menus again will offer all things fresh and as much locally sourced produce as possible.

Steve took a leap at a time when many wouldn’t, and his decision seems to be paying off. His clear focus and vision have never faltered. As for future endeavours, Steve is ruling nothing out.

‘Never say never’ he said.

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