Restaurant group Aqua continues to expand its number of venues across the south, with the latest opening marking the largest site to date. Aqua Lewes opened in The Old Courthouse at the end of October last year.
Located on the ground floor totalling 4,200 sq ft, the restaurant was a complete fit out from shell in a new build. Aqua Lewes is quintessentially a local Italian restaurant serving carefully crafted dishes using the best produce.
As with all Aqua venues, Bristol-based interior design agency Simple Simon worked on the site. Design Director Ben Rolls spoke to Premier Hospitality about their relationship with Aqua and the significance of the Lewes venue:
“The Aqua brand is our longest standing client; they were actually the first company we worked with. They are local to us here in Bristol and we have worked on all their restaurants. As they are growing as a business, we are growing with them – the projects are getting bigger and better.
“There was no specific brief from the client but we have worked with them long enough to understand what they require. It was more about us organising the project internally so we could get some fresh eyes on the brand.
“The look and feel Aqua tends to go for is slightly opulent, slightly high end casual dining. There is usually an art deco look and feel. We try to introduce imagery from 1920s and 1930s Italy.
“It is a slightly unusual site in as much as it’s got two entrances. On one side you’ve got a street that is the main thoroughfare to and from the town centre to the station. Obviously that is very busy early in the morning and late in the afternoon. On the other side you’ve got a public car park.”
Aqua has open kitchens in all of its restaurants to create that sense of theatre. Food is freshly prepared on site to create sumptuous Italian flavours every single day. Aqua is dedicated to using the best ingredients to make sure diners are getting the best cooking possible. Italian cured meats and produce are imported for a truly authentic experience while Aqua also uses local suppliers for butchery, fish and vegetables.
Dishes at Aqua are designed to be unique, something you wouldn’t necessarily cook at home. Big, bold flavours play a key role in everything Aqua does, aimed at exciting the senses. The menu is also versatile, catering to any occasion – from a light bite at lunch to a hearty meal in the evening.
“This was much bigger than anything else we’d done for Aqua. It was also the first new build we had done for them so it was slightly different. Once we got to site the project was very smooth thanks to the quantity surveyor and main contractor Ecsec.
“This restaurant is a big step in a new direction for Aqua. Previously they’ve gone for restaurants with 120 to 130 covers but this one is over 200 covers. It has been fantastically well received in Lewes and is working well for Aqua.
“They have been tremendously loyal to us over the years and it means a lot to us that the relationship has been maintained. We are proud to have grown as a business alongside them, working on some big projects.”
Founded in Bristol in 1998, Aqua has grown and evolved over the years but remains a great independent, local Italian restaurant. Owner Richard Smithson’s long held goal has been to deliver Anglo-Italian food to local neighbourhoods and encourage diners to pop in at any time to experience tailored services and food.
Based in Bristol, Simple Simon is a leading commercial interior design agency. Simple Simon has built a reputation for producing design solutions based on insightful strategic thinking, powerful creative expression and dedicated client service.
Aqua Lewes is open seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more information please visit: www.aqua-restaurant.com.