J. Johnsons makes festive Fruit Market debut
The Fruit Market’s latest must-visit venue is making a festive debut.
J. Johnsons wine bar, bistro and deli is introducing itself to customers with a pre-Christmas opening ahead of a full launch in the New Year.
It will open its doors on Saturday (November 24) to add to the growing reputation of Hull’s waterfront district as a culinary hotspot.
It follows an extensive programme to restore a previously derelict two-storey building in Humber Street, in the heart of the Fruit Market, and transform it into the regenerated quarter’s newest venue.
J. Johnsons is the latest venture from business partners Chris Eastaugh, Jason Gittens and Dan Robinson, owners of the successful Butler Whites restaurant in Humber Street and popular Larkin’s gastro pub in Newland Avenue, Hull.
The downstairs wine bar will be table service only with staff offering a mouthwatering selection of “deli plates”, featuring the likes of cured venison carpaccio, with carrot and clementine marmalade and glazed walnuts; and baked Christmas camembert, dressed with dried sweet cranberries, pistachios and pumpkin seeds.
Diners in the first-floor restaurant will be served from the Butler Whites menu until the venue’s official launch in January when a distinctive new menu will be revealed.
A range of high-quality wines, champagnes and spirits complement the menu alongside a good selection of draught and bottled beers including Poretti 3; Jever; Brugse Zot; Hiver; San Miguel; and Wold Gold.
Cocktails include a Pea and Elderflower Cooler: Stolichnaya vodka and gin muddled with fresh petit pois, cucumber, elderflower and tarragon; and house special J. Johnsons Royale – Stolichnaya Vodka and Stolichnaya Vanil shaken with apple juice, salted caramel and topped with prosecco.
Jason said: “We’ve decided to have an extended soft launch for J. Johnsons, so people can pay us a visit and enjoy the food, drinks, service and ambience before we launch in earnest.
“The run up to Christmas is such a busy time for us, so our chefs will be serving our current Butler Whites menu until we launch J. Johnsons’ own menu in January.
“We want to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for our customers, so we don’t want to rush the new menu for the sake of a few weeks.”
Chris added: “We’re really happy with how it has all come together and excited to be launching our second venue in the Fruit Market.
“We love the area and we felt this was the perfect place to create a venue that complements Butler Whites and others in the area.
“The building has so much character and has been beautifully restored, so our fit-out has been designed to make the very most of the setting and contribute to an amazing atmosphere. We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing people’s reactions to it.”
J. Johnsons is named after the late Jack Johnson, a legendary figure from when the Fruit Market was the centre of Hull’s wholesale fruit and veg trade. It features exposed brickwork, vaulted ceilings, aged chandeliers and framed prints of historic Humber Street.
Chequered tiles line the floor in front of the bar, which features jade green metro-style tiles, while the décor also features copper radiators, ornate mirrors and industrial railings.
With seating for 76 diners in total, the 1,800 sq ft venue will create up to 25 new jobs, ranging from chefs and waiting staff to bartenders and experienced wine waiters.
The Fruit Market is enjoying an ongoing wave of investment being driven forward by Wykeland Beal, the regeneration company formed by commercial developer Wykeland Group and housebuilder Beal Homes, as part of the Fruit Market LLP joint venture with Hull City Council.
The rejuvenation of the waterfront district has stimulated the growth of a community of independent creative businesses, galleries, retailers, restaurants and bars, with more openings due after Christmas.
The launch of new businesses is being enabled by millions of pounds of investment by the Fruit Market LLP in conserving, restoring and refurbishing crumbling former warehouses to bring them back into use and in erecting new buildings designed to fit into the street scene and fill gaps left by structures that were beyond repair.
The Fruit Market LLP has invested £250,000 in the restoration of No. 59 Humber Street alone, prior to the J. Johnsons fit-out.
Tom Watson, Development Surveyor at Wykeland, speaking on behalf of Wykeland Beal, said: “We’re delighted J. Johnsons is opening and another previously crumbling building has been brought back to life. It was very close to the point of no return.
“We’re especially pleased that the success of businesses that have played such an important part in the rejuvenation of the Fruit Market is now leading to the launch of new ventures.
“Butler Whites was the first of the new wave of businesses in the Humber Street more than two years ago and it’s great that the restaurant has done so well the owners are opening a complementary venue along the street.
“We’re now seeing new openings coming thick and fast – all of them adding to the appeal of the Fruit Market as an exciting new business, retail, leisure and cultural destination.”
The £80m transformation of the Fruit Market is Hull’s biggest urban regeneration project and also involves a high-quality development of mews-style homes arranged around four private courtyards. The development will see its first residents move in early in the New Year.
Pictures: R&R Studio