Sheffield restaurant Silversmiths aims to become an icon for the city under new ownership

General manager Paul Handley and chef Ashley Bagshaw outside Silversmiths
General manager Paul Handley and chef Ashley Bagshaw outside Silversmiths
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Silversmiths was teetering on the brink of collapse of it appeared on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

Then-owner Justin Rowntree saw taking part in the reality TV show as a lifeline back in 2009, when the modern British restaurant was struggling to attract diners in a 'derelict' area of the city centre and badly hit by the recession.

Ten years on, Gordon Ramsay's input has saved Silversmiths and Justin, having sold the business in 2017, is back on board as a consultant to new owners Rick Bailey and Matt Ray, who want it to become a beacon of the rejuvenated Cultural Industries Quarter and a destination restaurant with a national reputation.

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"I first bought the building in 2005 and opened it as a live music venue called The Runaway Girl, but the area was a real backwater back then and it wasn't gentrified. I was an early adopter! In the recession, I lost my house and nearly the business. When the letter from Channel Four arrived, it was amazing and the perfect time for us," said Justin.

After a successful stint on the programme, Silversmiths launched in 2009 and was run under Ramsay's blueprint. It was listed in the Good Food Guide for three years running and won several awards.

"I sold it in 2017 and it then had two owners in two years. Customers might not have noticed a difference but they didn't build the business in the right way and its reputation with foodies was tarnished."

Salvation came from Bailey, who owns American dive bar FirePit Rocks on West Street, and Ray, an accountant who once worked for the Gatecrasher nightclub chain. It's their first venture together and a 'passion project' for Bailey, who also runs a facilities management company.

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"Rick and Matt know the love it needs, and they are a safe pair of hands - they are passionate about Sheffield and want the best for the city.

"The Arundel Street area has improved so much and has had a massive resurgence in the last 18 months - there are two new restaurants and three new bars. It's next to the station and the theatres, and it's the place to be now.

"Fifteen years ago, it was derelict, but I think now Silversmiths could be the flagship for the Cultural Industries Quarter."

The restaurant's original ethos hasn't changed - the cuisine is seasonal and uses produce from local suppliers. It has a strong resonance for both Sheffielders and visitors alike.

The premises have been refurbished and the kitchen is now the domain of chef Ashley Bagshaw, who is just 24.

"Ashley is dynamic and I can't believe the level of experience he has for 24. He has really lifted the menus to the next level. He is confident that they'll go for Bib Gourmands and AA rosettes soon."

Justin believes diners have become more adventurous since Silversmiths' early days.

"Everyone's a critic now! I think the foodie was born in about 2009, and more people have good knowledge of how restaurant kitchens work now. They want to share things more and the relationship with customers is more mature. Their criticism tends to be more measured, and they are more experimental.

"I remember in about 2010 putting rolled pig's head on the menu and people didn't know what to do with it - they are more left-field now, they'll try things."

As well as focusing on building up their loyal customer base, Silversmiths have launched a business club in the hope that local firms will bring their clients along.

"We're going to run free networking events based around food, such as a bread baking class. It's really exciting and there's nothing like that in Sheffield now.

"We want to get noticed nationally and internationally. With the waves the guys are making, they are putting up their flag and inviting people to come and check out what Sheffield has to offer."