Two best friends with a shared passion for craft ale have taken on their first bar in Leamington, building on the success of their micro-brewery business.
Gavin Leach and Rob Singleton, who own Windmill Hill Brewing Company, have opened the doors to 44 Café Bar and Bistro as part of the latest chapter of the brand’s growth.
The pair, who met as students at Coventry University, have come a long way since launching the business in Gavin’s garage six years ago. They now hope to reach even more consumers through the Clarendon Street venue, formerly Casa Valle, with their extensive combined knowledge of craft beer.
It’s a particularly emotional milestone for entrepreneur Rob, a former personal trainer who is now confined to a wheelchair following a horror car crash 12 years ago which severed his spine.
“I didn’t know how limited the job market would prove to be with me being disabled. So I decided to take my future into my own hands and asked Gavin if he wanted to start a business with me. Gavin was a huge support. He had a good job and took a big risk stepping away from that to set up with me.”
Indeed, Gavin wasted little time in forging the new partnership, turning his back on his career in pharmaceuticals to establish Windmill Hill Brewery with Rob in 2017. Since then, the brewery, which operates out of Victoria Business Centre in Neilston Street, has gone on to create award-winning seasonal and limited-edition beers, found on sale in an increasing number of independent shops and bars across south Warwickshire.
Rob said: “When we make beers, we make them with food in mind. Beers taste different with different foods, just like wine, and we wanted a place where we could showcase that. Food and drink is a really interesting world to be in.
“We want 44 to complement the wider Leamington food and drink offering as a vibrant café in the daytime, Tapas bistro into the early evening and high-quality drinks spot for the evening crowd.”
The venue also offers a set-price Sunday lunch, breakfast and a daily Specials board, overseen by Head Chef Lee Mallen from Birmingham.
While the bar, which serves all of Windmill Hill’s beers, continues to be under the expert care of Luke Hampson, who stayed on as front-of-house manager and mixologist after several years in the role.
Gavin, from Leamington, who juggles his businesses around being a dad of three, said: “We take every aspect of this business seriously. We’re a big cocktail place, we’re a big craft beer place, and we take our wines very seriously, too, so it’s the whole package.
“To produce something from start to finish and see it enjoyed within a mile of where it was produced is amazing.”
44 is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 9.30 am-11 pm and Sundays from 12-6 pm. Visit: http://www.44leamington.co.uk/