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Food historian cooking up exciting plans for Hafan Yr Afon opening

Seren Charrington-Hollins, owner of Bubbling Stove Bistro Ltd, the catering franchisee at Hafan Yr Afon.

A food historian has exciting plans in store for Newtown’s brand new community and visitor centre as she aims to appeal to local people, groups and visitors alike.

Bubbling Stove Bistro Ltd, owned and run by Seren Charrington-Hollins, has secured the catering franchise at Hafan Yr Afon which is set to initially open to the public on the weekend of September 3 and 4 to coincide with Newtown Food Festival.

Seren and her team will be offering refreshments, cream teas, icecreams and afternoon tea over the weekend, allowing them to showcase their cakes, locally sourced tea, coffee, wines, dairy and other produce.

To allow the fitting of additional kitchen equipment, Hafan Yr Afon will then close until the official opening with a full menu on Saturday, September 10.

Bubbling Stove Bistro Ltd is creating 10 full and part-time jobs at the new environmentally sustainable building on the banks of the River Severn alongside Back Lane car park.

A chef, food historian and author, who has appeared on multiple TV shows, Seren  will be offering a seasonal menu focused on the best local and Welsh produce. Her new venture will cater for community groups, local residents, visitors, weddings, events and festivals.

Bubbling Stove Bistro will be open from 9am to 4pm from Monday to Wednesday, 9am to 6pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 10am to 3pm on Sunday. Food will be served daily, accompanied by a fine selection of wines, craft beers, teas and coffee.

“We are not trying to replicate the existing food offering in Newtown which has some great places to eat and to have a coffee and cake,” explained Seren. “We are bringing something new to Newtown, with competitively priced specials changing daily, small plates and small versions of meals to suit all budgets.

“We want to offer food at a fair price and engage local suppliers wherever we can. Our all day menu will change seasonally and will be tailored to give our diners the perfect choice for dining out with friends and family.

“We are committed to sourcing local food and drink wherever possible and also to showcasing the best Welsh artisan producers. We are fortunate to be working with great tea blenders, coffee roasters, vineyards and more from the local area.”

The menu will include Dutch pancakes, bubble waffles, home-made pizzas and other food items targeted at young people together with plant-based, gluten and allergen free options

“We are situated in the middle of parkland and we want to engage young people so that they feel it’s a place for them,” added Seren, a mother of five children.

She and her team are planning a youth café when they get settled in, together with Grow, Cook, Learn sessions to show young people and families how to grow and cook produce, thereby helping them to save money and reduce food waste.

Seren has also contacted local community groups with the aim of providing an accessible, quiet meeting place for people with a wide range of disabilities and sensory difficulties, together with their carers.

Dogs will be welcome and special treats, such as Bottom Sniffer beer and canine ice cream will be available for them. People with muddy boots and those out exercising in Newtown’s green spaces and on the River Severn will be warmly welcomed.

Forming an attractive gateway to Newtown’s green and blue spaces, Hafan Yr Afon has been built by Open Newtown, community focused development trust, with funding and support from the Welsh Government, National Lottery Community Fund Wales, Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council and Powys County Council.

Open Newtown describes the new building as a welcome break, an attraction and a new experience, encouraging people to explore river walks and areas of natural beauty.

This project received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

In addition to winning the franchise for Hafan Yr Afon, Seren has been shortlisted in three categories of this year’s Great British Food Awards, twice for her dark chocolate brownies and Seren’s Traditional Pickled Onions. The results will be announced on October 28.