If you’re on any of the various social media channels, and you live in Stockport, you’ll have probably come across the mouthwatering dishes being served up by Andy James, owner of the town’s exciting new eatery Ate Days A Week, situated on Vernon Street just down the hill from the market. For our latest Business Of The Day feature, Andy spoke to The Viaduct about the launch of his new venture.
Ate Days A Week. Named after a famous Beatles song and a cracking name for a business! Are you a massive Beatles fan yourself or did you just choose the name because it’s such a fun and quirky one?
I love the Beatles! They’re class and albums from that era like Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys just don’t age. The name came to me when I had the idea for pairing music and food together which I did for a one-off event over a year ago. I always had plans to bring it back and build on it and what better time than the middle of a pandemic.
You’re receiving rave reviews on social media for the dishes you’ve created. You must be delighted with how things have started for your business?
I honestly didn’t expect to receive the reaction that we have, it’s proper humbling. I just thought it’d be a cool place for a certain demographic to come and enjoy but it’s been embraced and loved by everyone. Makes me a bit emotional to think that all the work my team and myself have put in is paying off. There’s no better feeling for me.
Where did the idea come from to pair food with music?
Music and food are two of the biggest things in my life, alongside my amazing partner and friends of course. It was just a great way of putting myself out there, baring my chest and saying “this is me, this is who I am and this is what I do” and it’s clear that it has a very similar impact on so many other lives.
A lot of people are aware of Ate Days A Week now. But tell us about your own background as a chef before opening your own place?
I started my working life very quickly after leaving high school, at McDonald’s at Debdale Park. I soon became a supervisor and that set me in great stead for a lot of things I’ve faced in my career. My first real chef’s job was at the Beefeater, then Hard Rock Cafe for just shy of three years where I went and trained a team of 48 in Glasgow for the opening up there. I left Hard Rock for the soon to be opened Cane & Grain as Sous Chef, and then became Head Chef. Since then, I’ve opened a few restaurants as Head Chef/Executive Chef which brings us up to 2020 and lockdown, when I decided to bring back the Ate Days A week brand for a delivery only service on Saturdays.
Launching a new business this year must have brought its own challenges. What’s been the most difficult part?
The biggest challenge was forcing myself to take the leap into actually going through with it. I knew I was losing any stability in the most uncertain time I’ve ever known. Obviously you then worry about “will people come? Will they like it? Can I do this? Am I good enough?” But, I’ve got a great work ethic and with support behind me I knew it was now or never.
It looks like we’re heading for further restrictions, especially on restaurants. How will this affect Ate Days A Week, and how concerned are you?
It could affect us massively if people aren’t coming into the town centre, or if we’re forced to close, will we get any support from the government? I’m not flush with cash and there’s no financial backer on the business, as with a lot of independent businesses. I’m extremely worried but I’ve spent the past few days putting plans into place where I know we can carry on trading by extending delivery times and areas. This will help protect my team who are amazing.
Did you look at any other premises in Stockport, or had you already decided the town centre was the place for you?
I did, I looked at the two floors above the Angel Inn, the old Hatters Cafe site and a retail unit just near Merseyway. They either needed ridiculous levels of work being done or they just weren’t right. When this site came up, I was sold on the first viewing.
Can you remember your first customer you served, and what they ordered?
I can funnily enough, it was a friend of mine who stopped in and bought some beers and a Club Foot!
What would you say is your most popular dish, that everyone reading this should try the next time they visit Ate Days A Week?
Our most popular dish changes on a day-to-day basis, we can never keep up! The Bartender & The Beef is a staple that I don’t think will ever leave the menu. Our handmade pies have gone down a storm as well, we’re just about keeping up with demand! I’d definitely go for a pie with chips, minted mushy peas and rich, beef gravy myself; for the price there is nothing that comes close quality wise in the town.
I’ve been trying to think of other names for some of your dishes. I came up with Bohemian Bapsody, Sausage Roll With It and Flying Without Chicken Wings. Any good? Or should I stick to the day job?!
We already have a ‘Roll With It’ sausage roll so you’ve done well there! We’ve also had Bohemian Wrapsody brainstormed before. It’s a lot more difficult than people think coming up with the names, isn’t it?
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