24 August 2020, 10:29 AM
  • I opened Pitch Restaurant in Worthing, Sussex in May 2019 and for me it was vital that we showcased local suppliers of food and drink, as well as work with local small businesses for all of the other key services needed to open and maintain a new restaurant. This included everything from electricians to printers
Independent Shopper: Kenny Tutt, Pitch

I take the view that it is a support chain and as such, it is so important to build and maintain these relationships. Working with local businesses has proved to be so enjoyable, and much easier too – there is a much greater understanding of each other’s businesses when you keep it local. In terms of food and drink suppliers, when it came to finding out about the bounty of beautiful produce we have in Sussex, I was like a kid in a sweet shop! We get wonderful artisan coffee roasted in Ditchling from BackYard Coffee, our own Pitch Beer is brewed at the historic and popular Harvey’s Brewery, and our fish is caught just off the coast by MCB Fish suppliers. In fact, I often call for fish at 6am – a great time to find out the details of the daily catch, and we normally have a good chat about the industry too! Another favourite is The Pantry Bakery - the coffee and pastries are amazing, especially the Pain au Chocolat.

We get our water from the South Downs and we are blessed to have beautiful dairy such as the renowned Tunworth cheese nearby too – as well as benefiting from lambs that graze on the flora and fauna of the Sussex countryside. I’ve been to these places and seen the love and detail that goes into what they produce and the passion that runs right through the chain. It’s fair to say that now, more than any other time, it’s so important to support each other in what has been a scary time for every business. I can see how resilient the local businesses we work with are and I have really enjoyed seeing the amount of local support we are getting too – it has really shone through on social media.

I think the pandemic has changed the way a lot of people buy or view food with many choosing boxes of local food, be it fruit/veg or meals that can be finished or cooked at home. At Pitch we offered boxes to finish at home which showcased many local ingredients and the support was fantastic. It’s a domino effect and that box did a little for a lot of people, either to raise awareness or simply keep the trade chain moving.

People want to know where their food is coming from at a time where provenance and sustainability is so important. It makes total sense, and if we go back a few years, market towns were pretty much self- sufficient. We are in danger of losing some of this as we come out of lockdown, so we all have a little part to play. Local governments also need to do all they can to give local businesses the tools to thrive – whether that’s making parking cheaper/more accessible, helping to raise awareness, or supporting financially. It’s true that in most cases these businesses do not have the financial strength of some of the larger outfits and it’s a delicate balancing act to stay afloat.

Above all of this, it just feels good getting that coffee and pastry served in a small brown paper bag with a smile from your local coffee shop or sipping that cold pint that was brewed just a few miles down the road. I sincerely hope that all these local businesses go from strength to strength in the coming times.