Celebrating a decade of unique seaside café

Jane Wood (centre) celebrating the ten year anniversary of East Beach Cafe with staff
Jane Wood (centre) celebrating the ten year anniversary of East Beach Cafe with staff

An award-winning café on the Littlehampton seafront is celebrating a decade of success.

East Beach Café marked ten years since it opened with a ‘big party’ at the unique-looking Sea Road eatery.

Owner Jane Wood proudly looked back on the café’s history: “I came and bought a house here in front of what was a little chippy kiosk that had planning permission for a change of site to a burger restaurant.

“I thought that the town of Littlehampton would benefit from something more interesting, more important. and that it might bring more people to the town.”

Jane bought the kiosk and set about putting together her café.

The building itself was designed by famed British architect Thomas Heatherwick.

According to Mr Heatherwick’s website, the project faced challenges building in such an exposed location: “Although we wanted to give people a fantastic view of the sea, we also needed to shelter them.

“It meant keeping the building open to the sea in front and making it solid around the back.”

The entire metal structure was made in sections by just two men at local company Littlehampton Welding.

Jane said: “There was a certain amount of opposition in the beginning because it is a very extraordinary and very unusual building.

“There were a lot of people who were in support, including the council.”

But from the start the café has proved a hit in the community.

Jane added: “In the ten years since it opened it has become considerably more popular with locals.”

The combination of good food and interesting architecture has certainly proved popular, with readers of British Airways’ High Life magazine voting it the best beach cafe in the world in 2009.

Jane said: “A stewardess came in and said ‘I have never been so proud to live in Littlehampton’.”

Staff celebrated the anniversary on Friday, June 23 with a ‘big party with 70 regular customers’, Jane said.

She added: “I made a little speech and showed a film of the building.

“I wanted to thank the hundreds of people who supported me from the first day.”

Looking back on the decade since the café opened, Jane said she is sure it has brought more people to Littlehampton.