Bearpit Mexican bus bid

March 26 2015

IT once transported people around the city. Now, the iconic 1979 double decker bus is being given a new lease of life – in the form of a Mexican cantina.

IT once transported people around the city. Now, the iconic 1979 double decker bus is being given a new lease of life – in the form of a Mexican cantina.

Stationed in the Bearpit, 'Bearritos' is the brainchild of Bishopston resident Robin Halpenny and former Redland Green teacher, Simon Green.

But the pair, who have given up their jobs to make the project work, are in need of raising £15,000 to fund the venture.

The money will afford the installation of seating, kitchen equipment, electrics, plumbing, signage and other finishing touches.

Seating will be on the top deck, with a kitchen downstairs, where all the food will be served from a hatch.

Robin and Simon have so far raised over £5,000 via crowdfunding website Fundurfer. The deadline to reach their target is March 31.

Rewards are being given to people who do donate, such as burrito, taco and torta deals, full meals for groups and private parties, t-shirts and sponsorship.

“It's a business that solidifies the change going on within the Bearpit,” Robin said. “We need to make this work, we have no choice – we need as much support as possible. It's a bit of a ludicrous idea, but it will happen.”

The duo – who met back in November – plan to start serving food on March 28.

The restaurant is part of the many recent developments going on within the Bearpit – a large underpass, which connects the creative and culturally rich areas of Stokes Croft and St Pauls, with commercial shopping districts of Cabot Circus and Broadmead.

Robin, a project manager, has been working with the Bearpit Improvement Group – established to revitalise the area – for over four years, helping them to receive funding for the many projects that have sprouted from its foundations, such as containers selling fruit and veg, drinks and snacks.

The bus is the latest addition to the Bearpit after being recovered from a bus 'graveyard'. It was then put out to tender, where a number of different food business start-ups and ideas were put forward.

“I had been paying close attention to what's been happening in the Bearpit, and when the bus went out for tender, I had to take on the challenge,” Robin said. “It's an amazing thing to get behind – a double decker bus in the Bearpit, how cool is that?”

Rent given for the bus will be reinvested back into the BIG, and will be spent on further improvements to the Bearpit.

Robin and Simon's penchant for Mexican food was inspired by their travels to Central and South America, giving them no doubts over the cuisine they were going to serve from the bus.

Food will include tacos, burritos, tortas, salsas, quesadillas, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, molletes, plus a range of Mexican-inspired drinks.

Simon, a Geography teacher for 20 years, has been running a market stall selling tacos in Whiteladies Road, as well as teaching Mexican cookery classes. He is also a member of the renowned Bristol Eats (BEATS) collective.

“The food is going to be ethically sourced, fresh and relatively healthy, with also a strong emphasis on vegetarian and vegan dishes,” Simon explained. “Some of the best Mexican food I tried on my travels was made by migrants living in the US – they are doing some really creative stuff, and I want to introduce that kind of cooking in Bristol.

“We want Bearritos to play a focal part in the Bearpit – we want to be a part of making the area a destination.”

The duo have also been recruiting volunteers to help with getting the bus up to scratch.

To help Robin and Simon reach their fundraising target, in return for some great rewards, visit: www.fundsurfer.com/project/bearritos

Robin Halpenny and Simon Green