Social enterprise redefines business as demand grows for event spaces
Against the ongoing impact of the pandemic and with ever growing cost of living crisis, social enterprise Blend Kitchen, like most hospitality businesses, should be nervous. Yet founder Chris Hanson has seen a unique opportunity due to the huge demand for private event spaces created by the pandemic.
Almost two years of weddings and celebrations have been postponed over the last couple of years. Chris said: “The backlog of weddings and events plus the ones already planned for this year means there are just not enough quality venues in the city or outside caterers. Whilst the cost of living crisis means people cutting back on dining out, pre-planned special occasion events remain resilient.
“Our 60-seat restaurant and 100+ cover events space has proved so popular for party bookings, as of this month we are dedicating evenings 7-days a week to private events and expanding our outside catering arm. This means increased revenue and increased training opportunities, it’s a real win-win!”
As well as weddings and celebrations, the social enterprise is also launching a programme of ticketed events from this month. These range from exclusive “Chef’s Counter’ dining events, live music, film nights, high profile guest chef nights and the return to the city of the famous and affordable “Pie Night”, brought to you by the original team who launched the legendary Silversmiths Pie Night after Gordon Ramsay’s fateful visit.
More positive news from Blend Kitchen is an extension of their daytime hours, opening earlier from 8.30am and increasing from four to five days a week.
Chris explained: “As we grow more popular as a daytime dining spot, extending our weekday hours means we can offer more training placements to those in most need of our support as well as having more available free hire opportunities for local community groups. Blend Kitchen was designed to provide accessible spaces to our customers and the local community.
“These changes really embrace our ethos and means we can respond to the changing economy and habits of our customers, while continuing to create the unique training and employment opportunities at the core of our mission.
“I’m particularly excited about expanding our work with Sheffield College to provide practical work experience and training for catering students with special educational needs throughout this summer.”
Blend Kitchen is a not for profit social enterprise, which has grown from humble beginnings in 2016 running training courses, pop up cafes and street food events in community centres and pub beer gardens, to a beautiful 60 cover restaurant and events space, which has just celebrated its first year in its purpose built, £350,000 home on Ecclesall Road.
Blend Kitchen provides life changing training and employment opportunities to vulnerable and marginalised people facing barriers to work. This includes individuals affected by mental health and neurodiverse conditions, physical disabilities, homelessness, substance misuse, young people not in education, parents returning to work after raising children and those seeking asylum.