The renovated Shelter Hall is an impressive sight on Brighton seafront.

Work on the building at the bottom of West Street started in October 2015 and now, after almost five years, it has opened as a bustling food hall.

Though it was forced to launch under testing conditions, with the context of the coronavirus crisis impossible to ignore, the site has already proved popular with visitors.

Shelter Hall Raw, the name given to the new site, already has some of the city’s finest food and drink outlets within its freshly reworked walls – and it is far from done.

The Argus:

Plant-based burger business Clean Kitchen Club has been unveiled as the hall’s newest member.

Just four weeks after the company’s launch, it will set up shop inside the building and open to customers for the first time tomorrow.

Clean Kitchen Club is the brainchild of Brighton YouTube star Mikey Pearce and his childhood friend Abe Garman.

It enjoyed sell-out success when it opened on a delivery-only basis last month and will now offer customers the chance to go and pick up their burgers in person.

The Argus:

Mikey, 27, said: “We’ve sold out of our most popular burgers almost every day since opening and need to open a second site to keep up with the incredible demand.

“The team and I are excited to bring a new site to Brighton and we couldn’t think of any better home than Shelter Hall Raw.

“We’re currently looking at how we can develop our menu and will be launching a number of new and exciting plant-based treats for everyone to enjoy.

“I launched Clean Kitchen Club with my best friend Abe and we couldn’t be happier with how everything has gone.”

The Argus:

Shelter Hall Raw bosses describe the venture as “the UK’s first socially distanced food hall; a pop-up food market with an eclectic mix of local brands”.

It is “the best of Brighton brought together under one roof, with an emphasis on fresh, local, artisan produce”.

Clean Kitchen Club will join fellow Brighton and Sussex businesses Lost Boys Chicken, home-made houmous specialists Smorl’s, Mexican cuisine masters Carlito Burrito, cheese and meat maestros Toasted by GB Charcuterie, pizza restaurant Fatto a Mano and Brighton Coffee Works at the seafront site.

There will also be a central licensed bar featuring the likes of Brighton Bier and Brighton Gin, but food is likely to be the first and foremost in the minds of visitors to the hall.

A spokesman for Shelter Hall Raw said: “At Shelter Hall we don’t just work alongside the community, we work within the community.

The Argus:

“Restaurants play a critical role in our communities and we have a laser focus on supporting the local, food and drink traders in Brighton and the eco-system that maintains them, local farmers and suppliers.

“We provide a platform for our food traders, they pay no deposits and we have a strict policy of highlighting local produce and prioritising its use where possible.

“Brighton beach is a unique city resource and we, as a business, will continue to protect and manage it as part of our pledge to the community. Our team is extremely proactive in beach cleaning and engages team members in regular, daily beach cleaning schedules.”

The Shelter Hall reopened earlier this month following five years of renovation.

These were needed after serious structural issues were found at the site in 2013, with emergency works not only restoring the eye-catching building but also making sure the busy road behind it did not collapse.

The Argus:

Though the building was redeveloped with the aim of returning it to its former glory, several improvements have been made to the site.

While maintaining its signature aesthetic, developers have managed to provide double the amount of commercial space inside the new Shelter Hall – all the more space for food-lovers to explore.

This caught the eye of Dan Warne, formerly the managing director at Deliveroo, in his search for a venue to host a new business venture.

Speaking now as the chief executive of the Shelter Hall, he said: “When we began our journey of looking for the first Sessions Market venue, location-wise Brighton seemed a perfect fit due to its dynamic food and music scene as well as its rich historical links as a Victorian seaside leisure town.

“For the building itself, the key factor for us was authenticity.

“It needed to reflect the community, while also giving the scope to add and to reflect our brand.

The Argus:

“When we came across Shelter Hall it completely fitted the bill.

“The location was perfect for a start, as people leave the train station and walk down towards the sea, it’s right there before them.

“It was also a unique opportunity to restore a building whose original purpose was as a shelter for Brightonians and visitors for many years. The whole ethos really chimed with what we wanted to achieve.”

Bosses reassured visitors that Covid-secure safety measures had been put in place to protect customers.

These include socially distanced furniture, a digitalised order system and small bubble group seating.

A spokesman said: “Maintaining a physical distance from others is absolutely essential to stop the spread of the virus. However, we believe we can still be sociable and have fun.”