‘Coast,’ Worthing. The little restaurant that caused a big regeneration!
When Stefan Sykes stopped at a beachside kiosk for a cold drink, he had no idea what he was letting himself in for!
It was a pretty sad part of Worthing, with no road in front of it and a row of mostly abandoned beach huts on each side of the kiosk.
Stefan fell in love with it and then the owner told him that the lease was up for sale.
So Stefan bought the lease from the Council, then it took him three years to get permission to alter the inside as it’s a Conservation building.
On the beach opposite the restaurant, he set out some wooden benches and tables.
His next plan was to do something about the sad-looking beach huts. Some of the people who rented them only used them for a week or two every year.
Finally, he managed to persuade the Council not to renew the annual rental contracts, or to move the people to the left-hand side.
Now the right-hand side units are brightly painted and all in use with a waiting list of about 60. It’s known as the Coast Café Des Artistes. The last three units are used as a gallery to show everyone’s work.
This was a clever move because Coast is a very popular eating place for the artistes!
Next, Stefan started to look at the area around Coast.
Behind it was a park with an old tennis court.
He got £60,000 from Volleyball England to convert it, and involved Freda Bussey, MBE and Sussex Volleyball.
It’s now floodlit and three clubs play there.
(I was told during the Olympics that it’s a very popular sport to watch – especially when the ladies are playing!)
I must give Worthing Council credit. They’re the most forward-thinking Council that I know. They actually took over the private car parks, and lowered the parking charges!
Two years ago, they built a big swimming-pool and leisure centre a bit further along the seafront from Coast. Now they’ve added a new kids’ playpark and fountains.
So that whole area of Worthing has come alive again, mostly thanks to Stefan and his cold drink!
My friend Pat and I met in Worthing and decided to try Coast. Everyone who we asked for directions raved about it.
Stefan described the menu as Modern European. It’s not extensive as they only have a small kitchen. It leans quite heavily to vegetarian, and the only meat on the menu is their home-made burgers,
But they do have barbecues and cook paella outside the restaurant sometimes, plus a Full Breakfast which finishes at noon..
It’s very popular with the Artistes and their visitors.
I started with a roasted tomato and red pepper soup.
Both were home-made, served with bread, and my idea of perfect soups.
Stefan had Welsh Rarebit with Guinness.
Next, I had a selection of Mezzes; olives, frittata of butternut squash, feta & chilli, hummus, dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) Greek flatbread and some home-made chips – a joy for me as I hate frozen chips!
Pat had the salmon fishcakes. She said they were lovely and fishy, and not tasting of lots of potato.
It was served with a salad and chips, and Pat said it was colourful.
We had a bowl of aubergine chips in thee middle which I’d never heard of before. But I’ll definitely be making them!
‘Try our home-made chocolate brownies,’ he said.
At the first taste, we both cried out. They were the best brownies we’d ever tried, by far – and I’ve tried a lot!
My verdict? I live a long way from Worthing, but the next time I go there, I’ll definitely visit Coast Café Des Artistes again.
Sadly, we can’t afford to spend the day at a lot of Southern seaside towns as the parking is so expensive, but Worthing costs £1 per hour or £10 per day. And they’ve got an excellent shopping centre!
Worthing’s sea goes out a long way and it’s sometimes shallow for about ½ mile, so Coast is a lovely venue to just sit and relax over a cold drink for a while. And of course, it’s a good place to buy some unusual hand-crafted items.