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Macknade in Ashford Turns 1

Our MD Stefano shares a few words about our first year in Ashford, and exciting developments on the horizon…

‘Your wonderful Elwick Place team have been taking care of me and are very kind. Great coffee too!’

This is just one of the many messages I receive. Messages that fill me with huge pride.

As we celebrate the milestone of our 1st  birthday in Ashford, and as Macknade grows, we are committed to sharing our stories, who we are, what Macknade is all about and what we want to achieve as part of our local communities.

This is what we do. We take care of people, as individuals, and as a community (yup… and we make great coffee too!).

In the beginning - ideas become reality

Macknade believes in the power of food & drink to create, maintain and enrich communities.

We want to bring Macknade to more and more people, and we believe that with everything our communities face, both globally and locally, we have an important role to play.  Although Macknade Ashford has been a long project which started way back in 2015, we believe it is a crucial stepping stone towards this goal.

Having planned and looked at numerous sites over the past decade, we identified that Ashford, as a town, was moving forward with a dynamic strategy to transform itself into an important regional centre, driven by Ashford Borough Council’s engagement with its’ community and local businesses, large and small.

We started to consider a number of sites. We got to know the town…what worked… what did not…what was actually wanted on the ground and not just at a strategic level.

It was essential to not only identify the right sized building, in the right position, with the correct access…it had to be somewhere that would become Ashford’s… both in location and in spirit. A true community hub.

In Autumn 2018, Ashford Borough Council introduced us to Elwick Place.
Originally Ashford’s cattle market, Elwick Place was evolving into a crucial site for the town, both in its position and how it reflected the market heritage of Ashford as a regional centre.

Through understanding what Ashford Borough Council wanted to achieve for the Elwick Place site, in an ever changing world, we felt that Macknade could become a key partner for the town. In turn, the town would nourish Macknade, allowing us to bring the Macknade experience to an ever growing audience.

October 2018 through to February 2020 saw 16 busy months in which we dreamt, focused, planned and delivered an incredible space with a fresh and vibrant new team leading this next Macknade step.

We were hugely proud to say that we were we offering local produce, in a local hub, delivered by a local team, and that right from day one, the majority of our partners on site, whether builders or electricians, designers or just general supporters, were all Kentish.

Our first year... and what a year it's been

And so we opened in February 2020…and what an opening… the support was huge, yes we were ironing out our systems as we went but Ashford loved its new Macknade, the connection with our community was immediate.

By mid March we were preparing to open for evenings and then, lock down struck!

It has been hard across the business, as it has been across so many communities, for so many different reasons, but we have been fortunate in many ways too.

Macknade has been able to trade and showcase why we are important to our communities whilst offering an alternative to the way we consume food and drink in our society.

We have been supported every step of the way by our entire dedicated team. Through flexible working, testing new ideas and supporting necessary changes, to recognising the crucial need to support from home, even when it has been hugely challenging to do so.

I have always expressed that Macknade is here to support everyone within its community.The past 12 months have shown me how everyone in our community, and most importantly our team, have supported Macknade.

Looking to the future - our expansion

As we come out of this covid period, plans are already beginning to take shape for the exciting expansion of Elwick Place, which will see us double in size and allow us to grow our grocery and deli offerings plus provide more space for diners.  As we enter our 2nd year of trading in Ashford, I know that Macknade will fulfil its role and support us all.

None of this would be possible without our amazing Macknade team, so I must take this opportunity to say a huge thank you for all their hard work. I look forward to sharing many birthdays to come with our wonderful Macknade team and wider community.  Next year, it will be in person, with a drink in hand!

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