Brothers Charlie and Jonny Manning are behind Beach Street Felixstowe, a new, family-friendly leisure and shopping destination created with upcycled shipping containers. Even in lockdown, they remain positive that its opening couldn’t have come at a better time for the seaside town
If you’ve taken your daily constitutional along Felixstowe seafront this lockdown you may have noticed the colourful, converted containers just a pebble’s throw from the Blue Flag awarded beach.
Believed to be the UK’s first seafront ‘boxpark’, Beach Street Felixstowe is an urban-style complex and the latest addition to the 75-year evolution of the Manning’s Amusements site on Sea Road. It opened in the run-up to Christmas, where a variety of festive products were available to buy, all from local creative types.
Now we’re in lockdown, however, only the The Waffle Shack – selling a range of sweet waffles, crepes and ice cream shakes – is open for takeaway service.
Waiting to reopen are Cosy Aromas, The Gallery Box, Puzzle, Simply Lovely Jubbly, SusieSparkles, Tinx Boutique and The Coastal Drift – which shares a love of the Suffolk Coast through fine art, unique vintage finds, inspired gifts and seasonal floristry.
The entrepreneurial brothers behind Beach Street are Charlie and Jonny Manning, who took inspiration from city destinations such as Boxpark Shoreditch and POP Brixton and who felt that a similar contemporary project would be a quirky addition to Felixstowe’s seafront.
Charlie was pleased with how the opening and soft launch went. ‘The quality and variety in the boutiques is better than we even expected and the waffles are delicious and getting rave revues.’
Tracy Richer of The Waffle Shack, is well aware that some may think it crazy to open a business in such difficult times, what with COVID, and retailers struggling on the high street. But she says: ‘What’s has come about in recent times is a sense of ‘community’. The terms #shoplocal #supportsmallbusinesses are being used so much because we’ve realised we have to look after each other and local business can provide so much more for local people.
‘We traded for three weeks before Tier 4 and lockdown but whilst we are devastated that we can’t have customers inside to share our space (we love people and conversations!) we are incredibly grateful we can offer takeaway.
‘We have quickly adapted so our whole menu including gluten free and vegan options can be done as takeaway. We are also grateful to be part of this community that is Beach Street. We’re supporting each other and providing something that Felixstowe and locals can be proud of.’
And she adds: ‘We have adapted our opening times, as it is quieter, to Friday-Sunday 11am-4pm, but look forward to seeing people in a safe environment soon.’
Charlie again. ‘This is only the start and we have so much more to come, when the next five units open.’ Due to open this month is Shore, Coffee by the Coast – speciality coffee from Crude Coffee Roasters in Bury St Edmunds.
To come are FourThreePizza; Hazel & Co Yoga – Felixstowe’s only purpose-built yoga studio also offering holistic therapies; and The Smokehouse – Felixstowe’s only smoked food restaurant. Plus Hank’s Dirty On the Beach, which will be 100 per cent vegan, is coming in the spring. Charlie adds: ‘We do still have one unit left to rent for a small bar restaurant operation.’
The brothers believe that Beach Street will create a much-needed boost for local retail and hospitality businesses at a time when many are struggling due to COVID restrictions. The development is set to be a major attraction for both locals and holiday makers, bringing significant footfall, investment and revenue to the local economy.
And they also believe it has come at the perfect time as, throughout the pandemic, seaside towns have seen a revival with outdoor activities, beach days and ‘staycations’ proving to be more popular than ever. Charlie says: ‘We are excited to bring all this plus much more to the seafront with even bigger plans for phase two in 18 months.’
Jonny believes it be the most exciting development or project that they have ever been involved with on the site. ‘I’m so pleased we have pursued the idea through to fruition. Beach Street supports creative local businesses at the same time as giving Felixstowe residents and visitors a great new destination. I think it’s just what the town needs and the timing is great as the seafront becomes more and more popular each year, so I’m really excited for the future of Beach Street.’
Only a few units are left in this current phase of Beach Street. Interested traders are encouraged to take up the opportunity and join the community. The second phase of Beach Street is due to open in 2022 and include plans for expansion. All enquiries should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.beachstreetfelixstowe.co.uk for more information and follow Beach Street on Facebook and Instagram.
(Picture credit: Alexander Ward)