CAPTION – From left to right: Darren Strickland (Chef and Co-Founder), Adam Padolski (General Manager), Stuart Bailey (Co-Founder)

An Evesham chef who was made redundant during the pandemic is now set to open a new burger and cocktail restaurant in the town this autumn with his best friend.

Darren Strickland, who lost his job as a chef because of the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19, is getting ready to open ‘StirrUps’ at the old site of the Outside Inn in the town centre along with Stuart Bailey.

The two have been great friends for 15 years after they met while working in a kitchen together.

StirrUps started life as an idea from Stuart to run a gin bar out of a converted horsebox, but the pandemic meant the business had to evolve quickly.

Darren said: “Initially, the pandemic meant I was furloughed from my job which meant I had time to help Stuart out with StirrUps when it was a gin bar.

“But further restrictions meant events we were due to appear at got cancelled, so we turned it into a cocktail delivery service which proved very successful in Evesham.

“Sadly, when restrictions began to ease in summer 2020, I was made redundant. So Stu and I sat down over a beer in the pub to talk about the future – and we saw a gap in the market.”

The pair decided to turn StirrUps into a burger delivery service – specifically for indulgent ‘dirty’ burgers with street-food-style chips – alongside their cocktails, and created a small home-kitchen to base themselves.

They also made a commitment to working with local suppliers, such as beef and sauces from two businesses in Gloucester, and brioche rolls from Worcester.

It proved so successful that they set their sights on opening a permanent restaurant at the former Outside Inn in Evesham town centre.

Stuart’s brother-in-law Dan Walker, whose family founded Evesham flooring company Karndean, stepped in to help the pair to acquire the premises.

StirrUps is now preparing the restaurant’s interior ready for its planned opening later this autumn, and Dan is hopeful it will attract more people into the town.

Dan said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming our first customers into the restaurant – they’ll be in for a treat. As soon as I tried Darren and Stuart’s burgers, I knew I needed to invest.

“It’s so great that they have turned this from a simple idea in a pub into a new restaurant for the town, which we think will be a fantastic asset for Evesham. We hope it attracts locals and visitors alike.

“Of course, we’ll still be serving takeaway burgers and cocktails as well as serving people in person. And if it’s as much of a success as the takeaway business has been, we wouldn’t rule out opening further restaurants in other locations.”