THE SHAKESPEARE Birthplace Trust wants to open a ‘destination’ cafe and restaurant in Henley Street opposite the bard’s childhood home.
The newly revealed plan is part of a joint project by the trust and Stratford District Council for a major visitor-friendly facelift of Stratford’s most famous street.
The trust and council recently secured a £462,000 grant from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) – part of £6million up for grabs for projects which encourage tourism and enhance the cultural offering across Warwickshire and Coventry – ahead of Coventry’s UK City of Culture year in 2021 and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022.
The cafe and restaurant would be named Will’s Kitchen – according to details in next week’s council cabinet agenda – and would offer ‘quality eating’ with a focus on locally sourced produce,
But Will’s Kitchen would also become a hub for cultural activities including music and drama performances, poetry open mic events, book clubs, exhibitions and workshops.
It would also be home to an information and education facility linked to the birthplace and other Shakespearean attractions in Stratford.
Henley Street was pedestrianised in 1997 and attracts thousands of visitors daily, but is now “tired and in need of reinvestment” according to project bosses.
Improvements planned include to seating, lighting and signage.
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust chief executive Tim Cooke said: “Henley Street is the gateway to one of the world’s great cultural designations and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Stratford Council to improve the streetscape and the surroundings of Shakespeare’s Birthplace.
“We are greatly encouraged by the decision of CWLEP to support this investment to develop a welcoming social space that enhances the identity and special setting of the birthplace for residents and visitors from all over the world to enjoy and experience.”
Work is set to start in the spring.