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Lancaster community centre 'toasts' new partnership with neighbouring takeaway

Stuart Baldwin from Toast with Charles Tyrer from the Gregson

A Lancaster community centre and its takeaway neighbours are toasting a new partnership.

The Gregson Community and Arts Centre on Moor Lane has joined forces with its next door neighbour, Toast, which will be providing food to the café bar.

The food will be freshly made next door at Toast, Stuart Baldwin’s newest business venture, named after one of the cafe/bar/restaurants he owned and operated in Shanghai.

Born in Morecambe, Stuart lived and worked in Shanghai for many years but kept a base in Lancaster, near to The Gregson.

Stuart is pictured below with chef Dominick Smith and Charles Tyrer, chief executive of the Gregson

“I often used to come to The Gregson for a meal and that’s been missing recently so I suggested to Charles and the Gregson’s charity trustees that it should re-introduce a food offering,” said Stuart.

The Toast takeaway opened several weeks ago and by the end of this month, visitors to The Gregson will be able to order food that will be delivered plated to their table.

“Feedback from The Gregson community about the idea has been phenomenal,” said Stuart.

“There is a real buzz about re-introducing a food element to The Gregson experience.”

Charles Tyrer, chief executive of the Gregson, said: “The café bar is at the heart of The Gregson for many.

“Following the amazing community take back of The Gregson after the pandemic and the steady growth of the centre, now feels like the right time to offer food when the centre is busier than ever with more than 60 creative and community groups meeting here regularly. ”

Initially, food will be available in the evenings but the plan is to offer it during the daytime too, complementing the current offer of drinks and cakes.

The menu will include pizzas, burgers, hot dogs, chips, salads and desserts. Chilli con carne and lasagne will be among the mains and a rotating range of specials from chef Dominick Smith.

Toast will also offer a catering service to people who hire rooms at The Gregson for private events.

“A great example of how this new partnership will enhance the visitor experience to the centre is our plans for people to be able to order pizza from Toast and have it delivered direct to their seat in our Secret Cinema  -  Lancaster’s most intimate cinema experience for 25 people," said Charles.

Last year saw The Gregson Community Association, which owns the centre, celebrate its 40th anniversary following a period of uncertainty about the community asset during the pandemic.

“The Gregson is back up and running, thanks to lots of community minded people, and providing food in the café bar feels like the last piece in the jigsaw," said Charles.

"It will enhance the visitor experience, contribute to raising funds for the charity and make the centre a more vibrant place to be.”

Read more: Chair to step down after "remarkable" four years for Lancaster community centre - Beyond Radio

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