Star restaurateur Ruth Watson opening ice cream parlour in Suffolk

Ruth Watson and her business partner Rob Walpole are opening an ice cream parlour in Framlingham Pi

Ruth Watson and her business partner Rob Walpole are opening an ice cream parlour in Framlingham Picture: Ruth Watson/Adrian Franklin - Credit: Archant

The passionate foodie hopes to welcome the first customers through the door from the end of June.

So far 2020’s been a rollercoaster for restaurateur and former hotelier Ruth Watson (of The Hotel Inspector fame).

Alongside chef and business partner Rob Walpole, Ruth was all set to open her first new venture since selling The Crown and Castle in Orford nearly three years ago. But just 12 days before firing up the burners at Watson and Walpole in Framlingham, replacing The Lemon Tree bistro, lockdown was announced.

While she, and thousands of other pub and restaurant owners, await clear guidance from the government on the steps they need to take to open, a silver lining has emerged in the shape of an ice cream parlour – set, all being well – to open during the last weekend of June.

The W&W Ice Cream Shop sits on the corner of Castle Street and Church Street and will be open every day, with opening hours to be released on social media at the Watson and Walpole Instagram account.

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“The reason we’re doing an ice cream parlour,” says Ruth, “is because most of the people working for us are furloughed. Almost all our staff (many of them from her Crown and Castle days) we managed to furlough, but my head chef and business partner Rob Walpole unfortunately fell between two stalls on the date we were starting from with salaries. We’ve done this partly so he can get some money and also because, with an ice cream shop, we can actually be open.”

Around 10 gelati, one vegan vanilla ice cream and three sorbets will be on offer – all sourced from the Marine Ices range produced by Criterion in Thurston near Bury St Edmunds, which counts the National Trust and Royal Opera House as customers.

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“Marine Ices opposite the Roundhouse in London has been my favourite ice cream shop for years,” Ruth elaborates on her choice of creamery. “Whenever I was nearby I’d go in. It turned out four years before the owner retired, Criterion had started making their ice cream for them. I’m very excited to be selling it. I did a straw poll of people of different ages, from 14 up to 84 and came up with the ice cream selection from them. The top two flavours are salted caramel and roasted pistachio. Then we’ve got coconut, banana, my favourite coffee, hazelnut (which was the most requested), dulce de leche, toffee crunch, and Amarena cherry.”

In line with social distancing measures, the parlour will operate a one family in, one family out policy, with hand sanitiser for customers to use. Perspex screens are about to go in.

Ruth says she can’t wait to finally open Watson and Walpole on July 23.

Once opened the eatery will serve simple, fresh, flavoursome Italian dishes, having its own pasta room and wood-fired oven.

“I’m really really pleased with how it’s looking,” she smiles. “My heart has always been in restaurants. I love the people and the food. We were looking for quite some time for a site that would work and Framlingham is such a nice little market town with lots of nice pubs but there wasn’t a ‘proper’ restaurant. I don’t mean anything formal or horrible where you have to sit up and beg, but a place that feels like a real restaurant. I’ve been touched by how many people have sent kind messages or stopped me on the streets saying ‘Framlingham is so lucky to have you’.”

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