Opening Date Announced for the Pantry Café and Kitchen

The Pantry Cafe and Kitchen

THE PANTRY Café & Kitchen, Reading Town Hall’s new café, will open to the public this month.

The modern new café will sit in the heart of Reading’s vibrant town centre, forming an integral part of the beautiful 18th Century Grade II listed Town Hall and Museum building.

The Pantry will offer a fresh exciting place for breakfast, brunch or lunch and a great place to meet and eat. It will be open to the public from Monday 16th September.

All the café’s fillings will be freshly prepared using ingredients from local suppliers, such as Kingdom Coffee Co.  Their takeaway packaging will be recyclable and compostable. People who bring their own refillable cup will receive 20p off their hot drink.

The café’s Executive Chef, Daniel Pink, combines his passion for fresh local produce with a desire to provide customers with a scrumptious and inventive menu.

Delicious food on offer will range from savoury breakfast waffles & pancakes, handmade pork sausage rolls, and vegetarian scotch eggs to the Pantry’s signature chocolate brownies.

The Pantry will be open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 6pm.

The former 3Bs Café has undergone a complete refurbishment and forms part of the major transformation project at the Town Hall, which has included two new museum galleries, a new reception and museum shop, new Register Office ceremony room as well as maintenance and improvements throughout the building.

‘The Pantry Café & Kitchen’ name is a historical nod to the popular People’s Pantry restaurant that once stood opposite the town hall.

Cllr Jason Brock, Reading Council’s Leader, said: “Our much anticipated new café at Reading Town Hall opens to the public on Monday 16th September. The Pantry Café and Kitchen will offer the local community a great place to meet for a bite to eat. I’m really looking forward to sampling the delicious sounding signature brownies!

“We also want the name of the café to celebrate the positive historical connotation of a much loved, popular meeting place in Reading during a challenging time for the town. The People’s Pantry was a wartime institution designed to provide quick and satisfying meals for shoppers, business people, artisans and the army forces. The new café will hopefully prove as popular a destination for residents and visitors.

“The new café is a part of our wider, major investment in transforming the Town Hall and Museum. It will complement the two new museum galleries we’ve opened this year, alongside the new reception, museum shop and the Register Office’s stunning ceremony room. We have also installed low energy LED bulbs, added insulation to the Concert Hall’s roof area and carried out improvements to make the building’s heating more efficient. The transformation work is part of our commitment to enhance the facilities this venue has to offer for residents and visitors and part of the Council’s wider plan to make the best possible use of its buildings, including improving sustainability and energy efficiency.”

Find out more at: Follow Inst: the_pantrytownhall  Twitter @PantryHall Facebook: @ThePantryTownHall



The history of the People’s Pantry

The original Peoples Pantry @copyright Reading Museum/Reading Council
The original Peoples Pantry @copyright Reading Museum/Reading Council

The People’s Pantry in Market Arcade, opposite the Town Hall, on Friar Street was one of the town’s ‘British Restaurants’ set up as Emergency Feeding Centres during the Second World War to offer cheap meals to help supplement rationed food. It served hot meals as well as being widely remembered as somewhere to go for tea. It was staffed by the Women’s Voluntary Service.

It was sadly destroyed on 10th February 1943, when a lone German plane dropped four 500 kg bombs in Reading town centre.

The bombs fell in a line from the north bank of the Kennet to just outside the Town Hall. The first bomb hit Simmonds Brewery and exploded leaving a 25 ft crater near a paint store. The second passed through the offices of the Labour Party on the south side of Minster Street before exploding in the restaurant of Welsteeds department store across the road.

Falling a few moments later the aircraft’s third bomb collapsed part of the Victorian arcade linking Broad St and Friar St before exploding in a yard outside the People’s Pantry in Friar St, one of the town’s ‘British Restaurants’ set up as Emergency Feeding Centres and to offer cheap meals to help supplement rationed food. As Wednesday was half-day closing at the Pantry the number of casualties was less than it could have been on another day.

Paddington Bear author Michael Bond, was installing a radio transmitter on top of the People’s Pantry at the time.

The final bomb passed through the top of the People’s Pantry building and detonated a few feet from the south tower of the town hall, bringing down the front of Blandy and Blandy’s solicitors, damaging St Laurence’s Church and severely damaging the Town Hall itself, which was the control centre for Civil Defence in the town.

As the bomber flew off the crew machine gunned the town, injuring a woman in Hemdean Road, Caversham and damaging a school.

Tragically, 41 people lost their lives and many were injured.

Victoria Nickless

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