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Meet the best friends who launched the new comfort cafe Fishwife at FACT Liverpool

9 months ago

Meet the best friends who launched the new comfort cafe Fishwife at FACT Liverpool
Fishwife at FACT Liverpool

Two best friends are taking over the downstairs café space at FACT to create a nostalgic comfort café in the daytime and retro fish bar at night.

Shauneen Hegarty and Abbie Bradshaw, who were brought together by a shared love of food and dinner parties, only started Fishwife earlier this year.

But their concept has proved so popular that they’ve now taken on a residency at FACT and they’re hoping to make their menus and kitsch style an added attraction for film and exhibition-goers.

The pair, who both live in Dingle, will run Fishwife as a pop-up from October to December, launching on Wednesday October 18.

Shauneen, 31, says the idea to have their own business came after hosting friends at their houses and then working together in hospitality.

Credit: Fishwife
Credit: Fishwife

She explains: “We’ve been close for about six years, and among our group of friends we were always the two having people round for dinner parties. We’d swap and share ideas any time we travelled, and we’d talk about different restaurants we’d been to, so we always had this shared love of food.

“Then by chance we ended up working in the same restaurant together, Hafla Hafla on Lark Lane. Abbie was a manager and I was front of house one day a week. 

“I worked in a bank as well, and I had some time off last year which gave me time to think about what I wanted to do. I was talking to friends about how much I loved cooking and hosting and they said, ‘you and Abbie should do something’. 

“We’d talked about it, but it was pie in the sky, but one of our friends works in the Open Eye gallery and she told us they were looking for catering for an event. She mentioned us and we did it, we ended up cooking for 80 people so it was like going from zero to 100 overnight but we absolutely loved it.”

From there, the friends catered a wine tasting with R&H Fine Wines, and did a pop-up at Bunch wine bar on Berry Street over August bank holiday weekend which sold out.

Credit: Fishwife
Credit: Fishwife

“It was such a brilliant experience and our confidence really grew from that,” says Shauneen. “When FACT put up a post asking for people to apply because their current residency had come to an end, we applied, went and met with them and we got it.”

Shauneen, who moved to Liverpool for uni 12 years ago from her home city of Derry, says the Fishwife name came about after her partner jokingly called her it.

“I’d never heard of it until he started saying it, but when I look it up it’s like a coarse-mannered woman and a woman who sells fish. I’m pescatarian and at all of my dinner parties it’s fish and vegan, so it just clicked.

Credit: Fishwife
Credit: Fishwife

“The more we looked into the history of fishwives – the way they dressed, the little headscarves and aprons – we just loved it, so we’ve tinkered around with that and because we’re an all-female company it just felt right to play with that side of it.

“It’s definitely retro inspired, right down to the plates, and we’ve taken some traditional dishes like devilled eggs and kippers on toast and just elevated them in more of a modern way. 

“We’re going to have an ever-changing menu too because we like using seasonal produce, that’s when it’s at its best and its cheapest so we love celebrating it.”

Credit: Fishwife
Credit: Fishwife

28-year-old Abbie is also an artist so they plan to use the space for pop-up exhibitions, as well as supper clubs, wine tastings and other events.

“A lot of people who come to FACT are Silver Screen customers in the day who just wanted a lovely sandwich, a soup or a coffee, so it’ll be more that in the daytime, then at night we’ll up the ante, with nice small plates with a big seafood element, lovely wines and retro vibes.

“This is our first proper residency so we’re starting short-term to the New Year but we’ll see, fingers crossed we love it and customers love it and it’s a lovely space for FACT customers and beyond to enjoy.”

For more info on Fishwife at FACT Liverpool click HERE.

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