Fitzbillies in Cambridge reopens under new ownership
Fitzbillies restaurant and cake shop, which was forced to close earlier this year after generations of Cambridge students and hi-tech entrepreneurs gorged on its buns, is back in business. Cheffins’ commercial property team played a crucial role.
There was nationwide consternation when Fitzbillies shut. Actor and Cambridge alumnus Stephen Fry was one of many expressing dismay and a ‘Save Fitzbillies’ Facebook petition was launched.
Pembroke College owns the property and the Bursar, Chris Blencowe, explained that the property was acknowledged locally as an important Cambridge location.
Because of this the college had a triple objective – to maintain the shop as a Cambridge enterprise, rather than a national retailer; continue the Fitzbillies’ tradition as far as possible; and make it work as a business. Cheffins’ director Simon Lewis was instructed to find a new tenant and, if possible, save the Fitzbillies’ name.
He said: “There were plenty of businesses wanting to take on the premises but the challenge was to find the right person to re-create the iconic bakery and to ensure the name and goodwill could be acquired by liaising initially with the administrators and then the Official Receiver.
“It was an exciting campaign and drew on our wide experience of handling complex property situations and working with tenants, insolvency practitioners and other professional advisers.
“It culminated in a series of presentations by four shortlisted applicants. Alison Wright and her food writer husband Tim Hayward convinced us all that they could bring Fitzbillies back to life. Now the customers can judge the result.”
Alison Wright said: “Cheffins was very helpful and Simon Lewis guided us with lots of advice on how to bring it all together, dealing with the Official Receiver and vetting our plans.”
She has also recruited the former head baker, Gill Abbs and a former restaurant manager– so the famous Fitzbillies’ Chelsea buns are back on the shelves.
Serial Cambridge entrepreneur – now Venture Capitalist – Hermann Hauser used the power of Fitzbillies’ buns to attract workers to Acorn Computers from other companies for impromptu teatime shifts.
• PHOTOGRAPH: (From left to right): New tenant Alison Wright: Simon Lewis, director of Cheffins: Chris Blencowe, Bursar of Pembroke College: and Tim Hayward – Alison’s husband – with a tray of the famous Chelsea buns.