Tapestri Ups the Social Enterprise Game
This is the first time we’ve posted a sort-of restaurant review on this blog – and we’re doing it because Tapestri, in Swansea, not only serves some superb food but is also a social enterprise.
Tapestri is one of many social enterprise eateries springing up across Wales. Catering is in many ways a relatively easy sector to enter – local markets, not-astronomical start up costs, and opportunities to train people with few skills or qualifications. Most towns now have at least one social enterprise cafe or caterer.
Unfortunately the combination of “social enterprise” with “food” often conjours up visions of lentil burgers or perhaps mounds of Welsh cakes and a nice cuppa. There’s nothing wrong with these of course but they’re not exactly fine dining. Tapestri knocks these stereotypes on the head, with a varied and interesting menu, a good wine list and some superb cooking, all in a chic environment.
The restaurant is owned by Grwp Gwalia, better known for its provision of social housing across Wales. It occupies the ground floor of 37 Orchard Street, Swansea, with accommodation for overseas students provided above (not that there is any hint of student life downstairs). The proceeds from the restaurant support a number of Gwalia projects including “foyers” for homeless people in Swansea and Llanelli. So you can eat with a social conscience!
But even if you don’t care about supporting people less fortunate than yourself, the food alone is worth a visit. I’m no food writer so I’m not going to wax lyrical about what I ate, but suffice to say that all the Bevan Foundation post-lecture diners rated it very highly indeed.
Tapestri is important because it raises the social enterprise game. It’s smart, high quality, professional and innovative – it holds its own against many restaurants in Wales. It doesn’t look for allowances or plead a special case. It’s just a really good restaurant.
Anyone who thinks social enterprises can only operate at the bottom of the market or in struggling sectors should go to Tapestri and think again. They can, and indeed must, operate at the top as well.
We need more high-end social businesses like this in Wales – I can only hope Tapestri thrives and inspires.
Victoria Winckler is Director of the Bevan Foundation
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