Influx of new businesses to join Chester’s gift card programme

Influx of new businesses to join Chester’s gift card programme

Three new businesses are amongst the latest to join Chester’s popular gift card scheme. Artezzan on Pepper Street, Assembly on Watergate Street and MeltTown in Music Hall Passage now accept the Chester Gift Card as payment. Other new businesses joining the scheme in October include Jigsaw, Pars Kahve, Hobbs, Jaunty Goat Bakery, Hotel Chocolat, Stile Napoletano, Brightside Photography and Izakaya.

Artezzan opened on the former Las Iguanas site in June 2021. Operations director and co-owner of Artezzan Jim Dorrington has been in the hospitality trade for over 37 years, opening restaurants worldwide for brands such as Planet Hollywood and My Kinda Town Restaurants. Jim, who was previously operations manager for Living Ventures and Living Room, and head of operations for Loch Fyne Seafood Restaurants, said the Chester Gift Card will bring Artezzan to a new audience.

Artezzan – Pizza oven with chef and Jim Dorrington (right).

“The concept of Artezzan is a premium, feel-good Mediterranean influenced fresh food restaurant. Meals are made on site using fresh ingredients, and the food is designed to transport diners back to holidays in France, Italy, Spain and Greece, to sangria and golden beaches. Gimmy, our pizza chef, uses his Neapolitan sauce recipe and freshly made dough to create the pizzas which are fired in our authentic Italian pizza oven. Then there are the pasta dishes, seafood, and from the land and garden dishes.

“People are ready to get out and enjoy themselves but small businesses are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic and continue to need support. As soon as I heard about the Chester Gift Card, I loved the idea. It’s a really good, positive way that we can bring Artezzan to a wider audience of both locals and visitors, particularly as we approach the Christmas period to enhance our sales. Now, people will see we’re part of the Chester Gift Card and can spend their Gift Card with us.

“Chester was the natural choice of city for us to open Artezzan as it already has brilliant restaurants, bars and hotels.  The food offering in particular is very strong. We’re thankful that Chester’s community has embraced us and our first Artezzan. In the future, we hope to bring Artezzan to other market towns.”

The Chester Gift Card can be spent with over 120 businesses in the city, including restaurants, shops, cafés, attractions and salons, and launched in November 2020 as part of Chester Business Improvement District’s (BID) battleplan to support high street shops from the effects of lockdown.

Assembly opened on Watergate Street in the city centre in May, taking over a vacant unit that was previously home to Saks. Chester resident James is behind the new bar/eatery and says it has been a whirlwind: “Watergate Street is becoming a destination for independent businesses in Chester. September and October are renowned to be quieter in the hospitality trade, as people save up for Christmas. But from day one, it has been busy with Wednesday, Thursday and even Monday nights often as busy as Saturdays because people want to get out and experience life in the city once more.

“That was the inspiration behind the Assembly name, people gathered together for a common purpose. We’re open 15 hours a day, 5 days a week serving brunch 9am-2pm and Tapas style small plates/dishes on a Thursday and Friday, which will increase to 5 nights from November.”

Assembly, Watergate Street, Chester.

James, who worked in hospitality prior to opening Assembly and plans to open another Watergate Street venue in 2022, said joining the Chester Gift Card will be key to driving footfall: “As a new business, we rely on word of mouth to build awareness. Being a part of the Chester Gift Card will help as locals will see where they can spend their Gift Card and explore what’s right here on their doorstep. People will often go to Manchester or Liverpool for a night out, but we’ve got everything here in Chester. Being a part of the Gift Card will also help to raise awareness of Assembly with tourists. Chester is a lovely city and the best thing about the city recently is how many people have been visiting. Our offering in Chester is strong.”

The third new business joining the Chester Gift Card is MeltTown. Laura Lautrete, owner of the popular MeltDown in Handbridge said the beauty of MeltTown is that it’s born of two established Chester businesses:

“MeltTown is a collaboration with Liam from The Chef’s Table, and builds on the success of MeltDown in Handbridge with a City centre location.  We opened in July for grilled cheese sandwiches, loaded fries, mac and cheese, and we’re licensed too. It’s going really well but it’s a weird time of year. We’ll have a couple of good days when it’s all brilliant, then a couple of bad days when it’s all despair. Some people are only just starting to venture out again.

“When you run a small business, you get to know people so well. MeltDown in Handbridge is an institution and is loved by locals and MeltTown is very similar. Joining the Chester Gift Card makes absolute sense for us. We’ll feature on the website showing where to spend the Gift Card, which will bring people in for the first time. Then we’ll charm them, and they’ll become regulars!”

National retailers are also joining the Chester Gift Card, with Jigsaw on Bridge Street Row joining the programme. Store manager Kate commented:

“This year we decided to join the Chester Gift card to reach out to customers who aren’t brand aware, the gift card is a great gift option for those who love variety, you aren’t restricted to purchasing with just one retailer and that’s really important in the current retail climate. We feel that our customers are more likely to build an outfit from multiple retailers and the Chester Gift Card offers that. Here at Jigsaw you can use your Chester Gift Card to purchase some classic wardrobe staples, luxurious knitwear and more.”

Emily Ghazarian from Chester BID said: “It’s fabulous to be welcoming new businesses to the Chester Gift Card in the run up to Christmas. Our latest campaign highlights Chester as the foodie capital of the North West, we had 8 restaurants featured in the Michelin guide this year, including a Michelin star, a green star and a bib gourmand. But with the Chester Gift Card you can not only sample Chester’s food scene, but its hotels, attractions and shopping too. With over 120 diverse businesses to spend a Chester Gift Card, it makes an ideal gift for all ages, and for corporate incentives and rewards too.”

The Chester Gift Card is part of the award winning Town and City Gift Cards programme from fintech Miconex, Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and commented: “Chester’s new businesses have highlighted some of the main benefits of joining the Chester Gift Card, such as raising awareness and driving footfall with both locals and tourists. Customers also tend to spend their gift cards in the quieter trading months of January to March, which brings additional revenue for businesses when they need it most.”

Chester Gift Card is available to purchase online from or in person at Chester’s Visitor Information Centre.

Published 6th November 2021