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Plans announced for Maison Entrecôte – Romantic Parisian Bistro in Castle Arcade

The team behind independent bar chain Gin & Juice is expanding its business in Castle Arcade with plans to launch a new bistro inspired by the romance and charm of Paris. 


Maison Entrecôte will be an all-day dining experience focused on speciality Steak-Frites. The new restaurant will occupy two units (totalling 2,000 sq ft) at the heart of the Castle Arcade, formerly occupied by Madame Fromage. The new business is expected to create at least 20 new jobs.


The new venture is the latest from husband-and-wife team Stephen and Charlotte Barker together with their sons Kurtis and Kane.


The Barker family has been trading in Castle Arcade since 1982, switching the business from fashion retail to hospitality with Coffee Barker 12 years ago. Coffee Barker was joined by the Barker Tea Rooms and, more recently, the bars Gin & Juice and Rum & Fizz. 


Charlotte Barker, founder, explained:


“We have always loved Paris. It’s an enchanting city with a chic style and unparalleled class that is effortless. However, the rustic little bistros are what captured our hearts. These cosy little restaurants are like stepping back in time, often serving only one dish so they can master it and become a destination for it. They are our inspiration, and we believe Cardiff has a gap for such a cosy, charming little restaurant. It will be the most magical and romantic in the city.” 


Kane Barker, head of beverage innovation, added: 


“Imagine a cute little restaurant that’s affordable, yet the quality is excellent. The price is fixed, so you know what you will spend, and the vibe is perfect for a casual lunch meeting, a break from shopping with your friends or a romantic supper to celebrate with your significant other. We will be open for coffee and pastries in the mornings, then from midday, the grills are fired up to serve trimmed entrecôte steak, salad and unlimited french fries. Humble, charming and romantic, excellent cocktails too – a little bit of Paris in our capital. It’s a totally inclusive destination.” 


The menu will offer a selection of two starters and only one main course at a set price. To complement the menu, French cocktails, beers and wine will be served from a zinc-topped Parisian bar, and to finish, a substantial selection of classic French desserts and cheeses.


Stephen Barker, founder, said:


“I am passionate about what we have here in the Castle Quarter. This district of our capital city is a destination for a discerning clientele. We have worked closely with the landlord, who shares our vision. We stand in the shadow of the Principality Stadium, and a stone’s throw from Cardiff Castle, while surrounded by great retailers in this beautiful city. 


“I believe it is our duty to offer an extraordinary dwell-time experience, where tourism can thrive, and our local population can experience safe, premium, good times that rival Europe’s most sophisticated cities. Maison Entrecôte will be a key ingredient in delivering that belief and vision.”

Artists Impression Maison Entrecote

Plans for Maison Entrecôte – Chez Barker are subject to its licensing application and, if approved, work on the fit-out will take place in the coming months, with the team hoping to open in September. The venue will serve food and drink all day with proposed opening hours in line with the Arcade’s move to more premium operating times of 10am to 12am on weekdays, and 10am to 1am at weekends.


Commenting on the deal, Owen Cahill, partner at EJ Hales, acted on behalf of the landlord, Mansford LLP said:


“On the back of significant ongoing investment in the Arcades, it’s fantastic to see these spaces attract the best, most innovative independent hospitality operators. It’s even better to support the Barkers, who’ve had such a history of successfully developing creative new concepts that celebrate the unique atmosphere of these heritage buildings.”


“It’s another vote of confidence in Cardiff’s historic arcades and the Castle Quarter Estate with a strong pipeline of more exciting lettings that we hope to announce soon. We wish Maison Entrecôte – Chez Barker every success in this new venture and look forward to celebrating its opening soon,” he said.


Kurtis Barker, head of brand development for the business added: 


“Cardiff is such a vibrant city – we Welsh know how to have a good time and protecting the strength of independent hospitality is vital. Building upon the premium culture we enjoy at the Castle Quarter and Castle Arcade is essential. Each operator complements the other and we will be adding to that selection, without directly competing with surrounding restaurants or bars, elevating the day and evening trade to enrich the customer experience.” 


Edwin Abenheimer is group general manager and has been with the Barkers for almost 12 years. He is looking forward to the new venture and its potential for solid growth:  


“This is an exciting development and adds a great deal of traction when considering potential new locations. We will perfect the first Maison Entrecôte here in Cardiff in the Autumn. Then next year, we will begin a rapid rollout in the footsteps of Gin & Juice.”


The Gin & Juice brand has grown to four sites in Cardiff, Mumbles, Bristol and Cheltenham, with Oxford, Exeter and Bath in the pipeline for 2022.

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