A NEW family restaurant concept has opened at Barons Quay, in what is being billed as the start of something bigger.

Sticky Paws in the Flavour Forest, born out of the Tattenhall-based Ice Cream Farm’s desires to expand, is offering a stress-free dining alternative to parents from Northwich and beyond.

Complete with an indoor play area, the restaurant – while not a soft play barn – aims to offer a casual yet high-quality dining experience to parents and energy-filled youngsters.

As The Ice Cream Farm director Jonathan Fell explains, the concept represents a new offering which it is hoped could breathe new life into a struggling retail market.

Northwich Guardian:

“We did a redevelopment [in Tattenhall] in 2015 and were at capacity almost immediately and I stared researching other sites,” he said.

“What became blindingly obvious was that it needed a strong food and beverage offer alongside it. I started looking at indoor possibilities and soon become aware of Barons Quay.

“With a forward-thinking council I think it has been shown that it can be done to a good quality – making sure it is a certain quality but it is not just a play barn.

“It isn’t a soft play barn, it’s a family restaurant concept, which is where there is a huge gap in the market. We do think this could be the start of something quite big, hopefully.

“Barons Quay has been a challenging project, so to focus on leisure is absolutely crucial.

“If we can start showing footfall coming in, we are not going to sort it out by one unit but by giving other operators some comfort it is really something quite encouraging.

Northwich Guardian:

“It could be a wider thing than just something for Northwich – it can demonstrate to the rest of the country as to what can be done in retail.”

Having taken on 16 FTE staff, all from the Northwich area, the operation is now looking to harness customer feedback and build on what is already a ‘one size fits all’ menu – ordered from iPads as and when families please.

The concept also aims to boost Northwich’s presence as a leisure destination and, for one of the first mums to try it out, the approach is sound.

Jade Bayliss, who took three-year-old Tommy for a sneak peek on Friday, said: “I think it is a really good idea.

“It’s difficult taking kids out to a restaurant where you are actually getting nice food. If you are taking kids to a play area you are normally getting just café food that goes with it.

“The food service has been really quick and it is a nice change instead of your bog-standard café food.

Northwich Guardian:

“This, for kids, must look amazing. I think definitely on occasions like birthdays where Tommy is involved we would definitely come back. He is really enjoying it and the food is nice. It is really laid back.”

Cllrs Lynn Gibbon and Sam Naylor sit on Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Northwich Regeneration Forum.

Cllr Gibbon said: “It complements the other restaurants and shops around here, and it’s for a certain age group which is good – it’s nice to have a special place to bring children such as this and you are not going to be looked down on. It’s brilliant.”

Cllr Naylor said: “It’s a tremendous addition to Barons Quay and to the town in general.

“We have always had confidence that it would work but take time. I think we have turned the corner, and this here is our dreams in reality.”

Northwich Guardian:

For The Ice Cream Farm, the hard work starts now.

Jonathan said: “We have got to work very hard. While we are confident, there is a little bit of the unknown.

“The council have been very, very forward thinking in the approach to this and it’s a merit to them to show what can be done.

Northwich Guardian:

“It’s a completely new operation to everyone, me included. We have been working on the menu for nearly a year and we are really happy with the quality of food.”