Forge Island sold out following The Rustic Pizza Co deal *PARTNER RELEASE*

L-R Cllr Lelliott, Lee Ogley & Raife Gale. Credit Joe Horner
Cllr Lelliott, Lee Ogley & Raife Gale. Credit Joe Horner

Independent South Yorkshire restaurant chain, The Rustic Pizza Co, has exchanged a deal with nationwide placemaker, Muse, to open a new outlet in the last remaining retail space at Forge Island.

In an unprecedented milestone for the new landmark destination, which will bring a family-friendly offer to Rotherham, all of the commercial spaces have now been snapped up. Muse is delivering Forge Island in partnership with Rotherham Council and works started on site in November.

The Rustic Pizza Co was founded in 2017 by Doncaster-based husband and wife team Lee and Sian who originally ran a mobile street food business. The duo transformed a passion for pizza into a successful business venture, delivering their freshly made, wood-fired pizzas across their home city as well as serving up a slice of Italy at events and festivals all over the country.

The company opened its first permanent outlet at the popular food court in Doncaster’s Wool Market in 2019 before having to diversify due to the pandemic and resulting lockdown in March 2020, delivering up to 500 DIY pizza kits a day across Doncaster. The business has grown from strength-to-strength since re-opening to the public in June 2020, with both its in-dining and takeaway service proving hugely popular with customers. The duo source only the finest Italian products, using their network of suppliers who provide seasonal products and regional specialties from Italian markets.

A sister venue, the Rustic Burger Co has since launched at the Wool Market, with plans to open another Doncaster venue in the new year. The Forge Island restaurant will offer a winning combination of both its pizza and burger menus, with 70 to 80 in-dining capacity and future plans to include a takeaway offer.

Forge Island is shaping up to be a vibrant, independent foodie destination, with something to tickle everyone’s tastebuds. The Rustic Pizza Co joins four exciting brands already signed as part of a deal with Thistle Group. These include Portuguese and Southern African eatery, Casa Peri Peri, created by Masterchef star, Bobby Geetha; Estabulo Rodizio / Sakku Samba – a dual-branded concept honouring the Gaucho style of cooking and a fusion of Japanese-Brazilian cuisine, and luxury coffee shop Caffé Noor. Local burger, shake and dessert restaurant, Cow & Cream has also taken space to complete the mix of eateries.

The independent eateries will be joining boutique cinema operator, The Arc, and national hotel chain, Travelodge, who will anchor Forge Island, to bring a real, family-friendly feel to the town centre.

Raife Gale, senior development manager at Muse, said: “The Rustic Pizza Co is a fantastic final addition to our delicious offering here at Forge Island. To let all our commercial spaces off plan is an amazing achievement, especially in the current market – and is testament to the huge amount of confidence in our collective vision for Rotherham town centre. We always look to create places that will enrich the lives of the communities we serve for the long term. Forge Island will offer residents in Rotherham a fantastic leisure destination packed with amenities on their doorstep, but it will also create jobs and provide opportunities for local people too. 

“Forge Island is clear proof of how public/private partnerships like the one we have with Rotherham Council, can be a real catalyst for a place, to supercharge growth and investment, but importantly it’s focused on people. By getting all the ingredients right from the outset with our partners means we’ve created a real recipe for success and we can’t wait for it to open to the public.”

Lee Ogley, co-owner of The Rustic Pizza Co said: “Having grown our business across Doncaster over the last five years, we have been looking to venture into a new town or city for a while and Forge Island ticked all the boxes in terms of being a leisure destination with a focus on attracting local, independent businesses. I am really excited to work alongside the other indie restaurants and cafes to create something truly special for the people of Rotherham.”

Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for jobs and the local economy, Cllr Denise Lelliott, said: “The council is very happy to welcome The Rustic Pizza Co to Forge Island. It will be joining a fantastic range of café, restaurant and leisure facilities at the state-of-the-art Forge Island site and will provide families with a whole host of fun activities right in the heart of the town centre. I am sure everyone will be excited to visit The Rustic Pizza Co once it opens next year.”

The new Forge Island is due for completion in 2024 and will be set within an attractive public square with a new pedestrian bridge connecting to the town centre.

Visit the Forge Island website here.

Published: 27th January 2023