A south east London couple have started a fundraiser to launch a new bar and kitchen, after receiving an “outpouring” of support since closing their Brockley restaurant of 14 years.

The Orchard, located in Brockley, was founded by husband and wife Emily Conway, 42, and Edmund Bing, 42, who describe themselves as “south east London born and bred” with a love of their hometown.

The Orchard first opened its doors in 2009, serving a variety of dishes inspired from cuisine from around the world, run by a couple driven by their love of food with no former hospitality experience.

News Shopper: Owners Emily and EdOwners Emily and Ed (Image: Emily Conway)

Ed said: "We were young and enthusiastic and we saw the space in Brockley that was a restaurant that had failed, and we felt that it had so much potential.

“Not just the space but also the area as well. We took a bit of a punt and went for it.

“When we opened our mantra was if we try and we fail, then at least we can hold our head up that we tried and we did our best. Rather than the attitude that there's no point trying, because we won't succeed.

News Shopper: The Orchard in Brockley The Orchard in Brockley (Image: Emily Conway)

“So we wanted to flip that on its head and that's always put us in good stead, that attitude.”

Opening during a recession, the Orchard went on serving the local community for 14 years, before Emily and Ed made the difficult decision to close the restaurant in July 2023, after surviving Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Emily said: "We opened in a recession and learnt as we went really, and had amazing, incredible support from the local community from the offset, which has always carried us through really."

The couple made the tough decision to close the doors of the popular and “beloved” restaurant due to rising concerns they had over the cost-of-living crisis, as well as how the after-effects of Covid and Brexit may affect their business.

Ed said: “We didn't close it because it was failing, we closed it because we saw the forecast, almost like the writing was on the wall with how the industry was working, what the climate was like for people in hospitality.”

However, soon after announcing the news of their closure earlier this year, the couple described being overwhelmed with the “outpouring” of support from the local community, who were saddened by the news.

It was at this point that the couple decided to “rethink” there business model and launch a new, more affordable bar and kitchen in the same location as before, to remain part of the community they had grown to love so much.

Ed said: "We've been a big part of people's lives for many years.

“We've got families that came in when we opened in 2009 with their newborns in prams and we’ve seen them grow up into teenagers.

“People have been messaging us telling us about the role the restaurant played in their lives, from people who got engaged there, all sorts of big life stories.

“We’ve been stopped by people in the street asking what they can do to help or convince us to change our minds.

“That’s when we realised how we had become a much-loved part of the local community."

Driven by the torrent of support from local businesses, schools and residents, the couple decided to announce the reopening of their new bar and kitchen – Ellary’s.

The couple described the concept of Ellary’s as a “comfortable” and “affordable” bar and kitchen, offering a casual drinking and eating experience.

Emily explained: “We believe people’s dining habits have changed, and we want to create somewhere that is more relaxed and where people don’t feel an obligation to eat.

News Shopper: Emily and Ed have launched a crowdfunder to raise £20k to help fund the reopening of the new business Emily and Ed have launched a crowdfunder to raise £20k to help fund the reopening of the new business (Image: Emily Conway)

“The food menu will be designed so you can order one plate to just nibble on while having a drink, or you could stay all evening and have a few different plates to share.

“We want the experience to be accessible and affordable, and we don’t want customers to feel any pressure to book or to eat if they don’t want to.”

The couple have launched a Crowdfunder to help cover the costs to renovate the business and open it to the public.

Emily and Edmund have said they need to raise a total of £20k, alongside the additional funds they have put towards the venture, with aims to reopen in Brockley in November.

However, they have said this is not a guarantee, due to the need for additional funds to cover the costs of renovation.

So far, the couple have managed to raise a total of £10,387 from 145 contributors towards the total needed.

Contributors can choose to donate or purchase a variety of rewards, from Ellary's vouchers to use at the new business, to experiences and products donated by local businesses in support of the couple’s new venture.

Edmund said: “You’re not giving away money, you're getting something in return.

“So you could spend £25 and get some wine, some olives and some bread, and that's how much it would cost anyway to come in here to get it.

“So it's not like the money is being lost to that person.

“But we are benefiting because we get it ahead of time, so we can invest that money, get the place up and running and then give that person that reward for having supported us with the crowdfunder.”

For the couple, the support they have received from local businesses has given them a sense of community, after the couple spent years supporting other businesses and charities.

Emily added: “We've also been incredibly lucky.

“Lots of local businesses have donated, like we've done over the years to be honest.

“We love to support local schools, local crowdfunders, we've done that with vouchers and meals for the Orchard over the years.

“It’s amazing what we're getting back from the community.”

Emily and Ed are currently working on renovating the site that once housed their first business in Brockley, with hopes to welcome customers to the new bar and kitchen later this year.

Ed said: “We want to give it a fresh breath of life and open it as a new site, Ellary's, but with people knowing it's me and Em, the same team running it.

“And that sense of warmth and welcoming, and making sure people feel happy, and that we value their custom.

“That's so important to us."