There’s no doubt about it. I love so much about the beautiful Ipswich marina in Suffolk. In fact, the high quality restaurants on offer, such as The Waterfront Bar Bistro, make this one of our favourite places to dine. So, I manage to grab their director, Greg Morgan, to gain an insight into life at the Waterfront and how they keep their menu so fresh and exciting. Greg also spills the beans on what drew him to sunny Suffolk and more…
What’s it like running a restaurant by Ipswich marina?
The location is beautiful and attracts many visitors. When the sun is shining, Ipswich marina is stunning and is a great place to sit down for a drink and relax. Running a restaurant on the Ipswich marina in Suffolk is both enjoyable and challenging. After all, there is a lot of competition on the Waterfront with many eateries. However, this is a good thing as it keeps you on top of your game and, with so much on offer, it makes the area a popular destination. Our clientele tend to be a mixture of people, some on business or people away for the weekend, as well as our regulars. The advantage of this is that you get to meet new people, as well as welcoming customers who become friends.
Where do you source your local ingredients from?
All our suppliers are based in Suffolk and Essex.
How many people do you employ?
We employ six chefs, all at various ages and levels of expertise. In addition, our front of house staff are a mix of part-time and full-time, numbering seven in total.
How do you keep your menu fresh and exciting?
To keep the menu fresh, we use seasonal ingredients. Also, to ensure our menu is exciting, we change our dishes regularly and always have specials on the board. In fact, the specials are popular with customers and chefs alike. This way, the customer can sample dishes that are not on the main menu, such as swordfish or octopus. For the chefs working with us on the Ipswich marina, it is nice to prepare and serve different food, giving them a chance to showcase their unique skill and creativity.
What sort of events to you host at The Waterfront?
We host numerous private corporate events, such as networking parties, with either a buffet or canapés. However, we have also been lucky enough to welcome wedding parties at The Waterfront on the Ipswich marina. I particularly enjoy the weddings events as it nice to meet and plan with the bride and groom. As a result, it’s fantastic to make their vision come to life so the whole thing can come together perfectly on the day. I must admit, this is one of the best things about being privately owned. This way, you are not tied to company policy, so you can sit down with someone and listen to all their ideas. We also have wine-tasting events and Prosecco nights.
How do you find live bands?
Artists actually contact us and some are recommended. I also look online and use agencies. The internet is a big help, as you can see them perform first. We’re lucky there are many talented singers around, especially in the Ipswich area. They enjoy performing on the Ipswich marina and our customers love the entertainment. Our music takes place on a Sunday afternoon and it always creates a nice atmosphere. After all, it’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday at Ipswich marina with family and friends.
If you had to choose between a main or a pudding what would it be?
Main! Has to be Beef Wellington and Dauphinoise potatoes.
Which dish is the most popular on the menu?
The Beef Wellington is very popular as is the Suffolk chicken. However, customers also like the fish dishes such as Sea bass and Halibut.
What is the most challenging aspect about running a restaurant?
I think for us, at the Waterfront, it is about managing to create a high standard of food and service at a reasonable price. I am very mindful that people work hard for their money and, when they come out, their expectations are high and rightly so. So our challenge is to meet that expectation. However, our staff training and team spirit are key here. In fact, our staff need to be happy in their work – if they are not, it will show and service will slip.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a footballer but, like many young boys, I wasn’t good enough. In fact, it was football that brought me to this area. Many years ago, I went to Upton park to watch West Ham play Manchester United with my six-year-old daughter Grace. We were by the corner flag as Mr Beckham took a corner. I had to cover my little girl’s ears as the unpleasant comments began to ring out. By coincidence, two weeks later, my friend had two tickets to Ipswich v Manchester United at Portman Road and invited me along and again we were by the corner flag. Mr Beckham went to take a corner and someone shouted “Hey Beckham I don’t even like your wife’s records”! I told my wife Lorraine about this and, after reflecting on the contrast of the two experiences, we both agreed that this would be a nice area to bring up our family. So it was ‘Goodbye Billericay’ and ‘Hello East Bergholt’…what a good decision!
How do you like to chill out in your spare time?
I am a keen motor cyclist and never get tired of the beautiful Suffolk countryside. We also have a border collie, Bella, who needs lots of exercise. We are blessed with some great walks down at Flatford Mill and Bella loves the beaches at Felixstowe and Southwold. In fact, it’s a struggle to get her out the water.
Can you tell us three unusual facts about yourself?
From the age of 25 to 45, I wore a schoolboy blazer in the city shouting at people in a circle trading financial futures.
I love beetroot.
I have never watched Game of Thrones.
What’s the mood like in the restaurant on a Saturday night?
Very chilled; lots of couples with friends and plenty of laughter. Ipswich marina is a great destination to visit and enjoy the views with a bite to eat.
Where do you get your culinary inspiration from?
I like Rick Stein..He doesn’t over complicate things; he likes to use local produce and has an old-school enthusiasm for learning. He always has his note book on him. How good is that?
What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened at The Waterfront?
When we have our soul singers on Sundays, we often get an impromtu flashmob breakout. I remember one sunny afternoon when Irie J was performing, we must have had 60 people or so, all in line outside dancing to Ain’t no stopping us now… this always raises a smile for me.
Which celebrity would you like to visit your restaurant and why?
I think it would have to be Stephen Fry. Interesting, articulate and very funny. (Lorraine would insist on Russell Crowe in full Maximus the Gladiator outfit, but the less said about that, the better!)
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I still want to be involved with the Waterfront, but maybe have a bit more time with my wife, Lorraine (sorry love). I might even pick up a golf club.
Tell me why I should make The Waterfront on Ipswich marina my culinary destination next time I have a meal out…
The food is modern and fresh, the staff really care and you are in a stunning location!