Category Archives: Food and Drink


The impressively laid out bar area at the new Ale Hub in Mere Green

Sutton’s newest drinks venue pulls in the punters

‘People have been really welcoming to us and we have had a really successful opening day.’

Those are the words of the manager of Sutton Coldfield’s newest pub, which opened its doors on December 2.

A tiny yet welcoming atmosphere awaits ale enthusiasts at the tiny, but impressively laid out  micropub.

Locals enjoy a drink at the packed venue on Hill Village Road

Run by the McDiarmid family, it will be their fourth Ale Hub and manager Dan Truepenny says he has no doubt it will be a success.

He said: “It is our first pub on a main road and the feedback we have had so far has been really positive.

“People have been very keen to welcome us and we offer something that is pretty unique in this area.”

There was standing room only on the opening night and locals welcomed the fact that its specialises in real ales.

It is small with around 12 tables, but people spending their first evening there were able to do what the owners had planned for the venue.

That was to be able to socialise and enjoy good ales with just background music as the only distraction.
The former premises of Garner Canning Solicitors on Hill Village Road will add more variation to the already vibrant food and drink scene.

The owners said they have a love of real ale and their aim is to help to revitalise the local pub scene and provide the community with a choice of refreshing and well-kept drinks in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Opening date for store

The new store nears completion and will feature a rapid charging point in the car park

Lidl announces August 5 opening

Discount grocer Lidl has confirmed that its new store in Mere Green will open on August 5. The German-owned giant will provide competition for Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Poundland in the area.

A new Aldi is also planned for the former Waitrose on Belwell Lane.

Around 40 jobs, both full and part-time, will be created at the new Sutton Coldfield store and the news comes after a new Thai tapas style restaurant, the Giggling Squid, opened this week (July 26).

Workers are rushing to complete inside of the store and the car park will see the first rapid electric car charging point on the car park.

A Lidl spokesman said: “Once opened, the store will create around 40 full and part time jobs for the local area and we look forward to delivering our fresh, quality and affordable produce to the local community.”

The new supermarket is on the site of the former industrial premises in Mere Green Road, which has lain derelict for more than 10 years.

The store has not met with universal approval with fears of traffic chaos.

It does seem inevitable there will be a big increase in traffic on the busy stretch of road, with Mulberry Walk fully open with gym, shops, bars and restaurants. With a busy garage also at Mere Green island, it looks like delays will be on the way.

The Giggling Squid has opened with discounted prices for a limited time. For booking info, visit the new website at

Thai restaurant opens doors

New venue opens in Mere Green with 50% discounts

Sutton Coldfield’s newest restaurant has announced the opening date for its new venue in Mere Green and is offering a 50 per cent discount during its first week.

The new Thai tapas-style restaurant, Giggling Squid, will take over from a former Italian restaurant in Mulberry Walk, and will open to the public on July 26.

As part of their launch celebrations, they will be hosting an exclusive first look at the restaurant over on their Instagram channel on July 23, before fully opening to the public on the following Monday.

Bookings are now open and diners will be notified the moment bookings go live for the opening week which includes a celebratory 50 per cent off all meals. For booking info, visit the new website at

The chain, began in the basement of a fishmerman’s cottage in Brighton in 2002,

Founded by Pranee and Andrew Laurillard, Giggling Squid now operates 38 venues across the UK.

A spokesperson for the chain said Giggling Squid has established a strong reputation for bold Thai cuisine, complemented by a stylish and relaxed setting. The varied menu comprises a competitively priced lunch menu and a more extensive evening offer, as well as separate children and vegan menus.

Co-founder, Andy said: “Thai mealtimes are energetic, informal, adventurous and where food is celebrated. It’s relaxed and there’s no standing on ceremony. Every Giggling Squid has its own personal touch to it, and this restaurant is no different; it’s a beautifully designed space that we hope will bring a lot of pleasure to our guests. We can’t wait to welcome everyone.”

The spokesperson added: “Catering to the community during the new normal, Giggling Squid guests will still receive the same great food, service and atmosphere the restaurant chain is known and loved for, but with even more stringent health and safety policies in place, making it the safest place possible for all guests and staff.”

Giggling Squid is expected to open Monday-Thursday 12pm – 10pm, Friday-Saturday 12pm – 10.30pm, Sunday 12pm – 9.30pm.

A wide takeaway menu will also be available for click & collect or telephone orders as well as delivery.

Thai time for new restaurant

Chain set to open in Sutton Coldfield

A specialist Thai restaurant chain, which prides itself on its tapas-style simplicity and ethical approach to business, is to open its doors in Sutton Coldfield.

A spokesperson for Giggling Squid, which offers ‘simple, rustic, fresh Thai food,’ confirmed the company is set to move into Mulberry Walk in Mere Green.

It will join a diverse group of restaurants operating in Mulberry Walk and Mere Green, with a specialist offering of Thai food.

It will take over the former Gustos restaurant which closed last year, subject to planning approval.

Giggling Squid opened its first restaurant in 2009 and currently operate over 35 restaurants, including an establishment in Harborne, Birmingham, employing around 900 employees who are all directly employed rather than agency staff.

The brand founded by husband and wife Andrew and Pranee Laurillard,  prides itself on serving ‘staggeringly good Thai food.’

Pranee said: “My husband and I sat in the basement of a tiny, tiny fisherman’s cottage (now our Brighton restaurant!) way back in 2002 and pulled together our first Thai Tapas menu.

” Our idea was to cook simple, rustic, fresh Thai food. We wanted a menu that people could eat like they do at home. In Thailand, mealtimes are all about lots of dishes that everyone shares.”

The opening date has not been confirmed yet, but all of its other venues will open for dine-in guests on Monday 17th May. A typical selection of what it offers can be found here

The group say it is proud to its ethical manner and works to key values such as integrity, quality and treating everyone fairly and this ethos runs through our business decisions including employment policies and supply chain management.

In a statement on its website, Giggling Squid says: “We have long-standing, close relationships with suppliers and prioritise quality and provenance. We continue to monitor suppliers that we believe may present high modern slavery risks in our supply chain.

“We are committed to continuously improving our practices to eliminate any slavery and human trafficking in the supply chain and to act ethically and with integrity in all business relationships.

“Over the course of the next financial year we will be implementing new policies, training and key performance indicators to help us identify, prevent and mitigate any risks of modern slavery or human trafficking in relation to new and existing suppliers and in relation to our own operations.”

A statement from Gustos said COVID-19 has had a significant impact on its business, like many in the industry, and it had to make the incredibly tough decision to close four of its restaurants in order to protect the future of Gusto.


Raising a glass to the great outdoors

The Butlers Arms has created a marquee which will complement the decking areas
Pubs and hospitality venues show versatility for big reopening

As hospitality venues in Sutton prepare to tentatively come out of lockdown on April 12, pubs and restaurants are coming up with some ingenious solutions to the problem of eating and drinking outside.

From that date hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’), as before the last hospitality closure in October. 

Wider social contact rules will apply in all these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households.

It will be a welcome return to business for hospitality venues, with many having gone to the wall and others surviving through grants, loans and the use of the Job Retention Scheme (furlough).

Now they hope to be back for good with a return to full opening on May 17, providing there is no further surge in Covid-19 cases.

To cope with this, pubs in particular are adapting their premises to allow groups of people to drink and dine together when the weather is poor

These include these of shelters, which look like kiosks used at the Birmingham German markets, seen at the Crown at Four Oaks and the Hardwick Arms at Streetly and strengthened open marquees, like at the Butlers Arms on Lichfield Road, covered outdoor areas, like The Bracebridge in Sutton Park and some, turning their gardens into the equivalent of a German beer garden, like the Town House in Sutton Coldfield Town centre, similar to those seen at Munich’s Oktoberfest.

It is anticipated there will be a huge rush and many venues are contacting customers through the use of apps to invite them back and book a table where available.

The team at the Bulters Arms said on their Facebook page: “Have a sneak peak at our menu for The Butlers Outdoors… We’re not taking bookings for outside tables. Tables will be available on a strictly first come, first serve basis. We can’t wait to welcome you all back on April 12th (hopefully 🤞).”

Other indoor locations to open on May 17 include indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas; the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs; and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes.

 The government will also allow some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues. In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend.

By that point hospitality in Sutton and across the country will be hoping to be fully back in business by June 21. All dates are subject to change, depending on any sign of a further wave of coronavirus infection.  

Store wars in Mere Green?

Aldi set to build new store a former Waitrose

Store wars could be breaking out in Sutton Coldfield when a second discount supermarket takes over a former Waitrose store in Mere Green.

A new Aldi will soon join the new Lidl supermarket currently under construction in Mere Green, the discount rival bringing a fourth supermarket into Mere Green, together with Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. Include Poundland, which also sells food and groceries, and there will be five.

While building work progresses on Lidl at the former Lucas site on Mere Green Road, rival German firm Aldi has secured the Waitrose store on Belwell Lane and could convert the premises into its third store in Sutton Coldfield.

It would not be the first Waitrose store to have been snapped up by Aldi as the John Lewis chain has struggled with falling sales over the years. It bought up a former Waitrose in Camden, London in 2018.

The store in Belwell Lane, which has been an upmarket grocery store feature for four decades, is part of the Atlas House block which also houses the Flints bar and various offices with a large car park to the rear.

It is thought to have been snapped up for just £1. A spokesman for Aldi would not confirm nor deny this but said:  “We are always looking for and considering sites for our future stores network.”

The move could spark more anger with local residents as traffic would certainly increase again in and around Mere Green island adding to fears of traffic chaos with the new Lidl coming on line in the next couple of months.

The last time there were more than two supermarkets in Mere Green dates back to before the construction of Mulberry Walk, when the area hosted an Aldi, which is now Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and a Safeway store which was demolished as part of the new development.