Whipsnade Zoo to redesign its five cafes and learn from casual dining kitchens

DUNSTABLE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Whipsnade's new male baby giraffe - which is yet to be named - meets the outside world at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park on October 20, 2004 in Dunstable, England. Born on October 9 to parents Bruno and Ellie, this is the first reticulated giraffe birth at Whipsnade in three years, and is the seventh calf to be born at Whipsnade. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Whipsnade Zoo has pledged to “redefine” its catering offering – including investment and redesign of its five cafes – as part of a brand new foodservice strategy that bids to capitalise on high street dining trends.

The overhaul is being led by its catering partner Levy Restaurants, which will oversee the transformation of the Bedfordshire visitor attraction.

More than half a million visitors flock to the zoo each year to see the 3,000 animals that it houses, and catering is a key revenue driver for the site, which is run by international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London).

The partnership will see the wildlife attraction’s catering offer redefined, to give an even greater choice for visitors and to maximise the food and drink options during peak visitor times.

The Zoo’s five cafes will undergo investment and redesign, according to Levy.

At the heart of the redevelopment plans is the introduction of River Cottage, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s acclaimed restaurant concept.

This will draw on provenance, sustainability and seasonal British flavours and offer a casual dining experience in line with today’s eating trends.

Reflecting seasonal demand, a new take-away picnic offering will be introduced to allow visitors to enjoy al fresco dining during the summer months.

All concepts will be inspired by high street and food market trends and will feature a broad range of vegetarian and healthy menus.

Jon Davies, managing director, leisure at Levy Restaurants UK, said: “This is an exciting new partnership for Levy Restaurants UK and we look forward to reinventing the catering offer at the zoo. The whole operation will be underpinned by our ethos – sustainability through a focus on seasonal menus and ethically sourced British produce, an empowered, incentivised and engaged team. This alongside a service style that moves away from the ‘outdated canteen’ and towards multiple food and drink options reflecting the best of the high street.”

Kathryn England, head of commercial for ZSL, added: “ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is committed to providing our visitors with an exciting catering experience, and this new catering partnership with Levy will allow us to do just that, while ensuring that sustainability and quality are key priorities. This is an exciting change for ZSL, using food to engage and educate our visitors on sustainability and responsible eating.”

Levy Restaurants UK has grown a strong portfolio of leisure destinations, with partner clients including Leeds Castle, Somerset House, Bristol Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo and Twycross Zoo.

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