In a few short months, Brighton’s Shelter Hall has established itself as a go-to place for creative informal dining. Nick Mosley talks to kitchen partners Tom Mullany of Santan Boi and Tom Samandi of Lost Boys Chicken about their involvement in this hospitality experience.

Planning to open a hospitality venue on the scale of Shelter Hall would be a challenge at the best of times, but the pandemic has thrown down some challenges and also opportunities for the operators and the varied independent kitchens in the seafront building.

Each of the seven kitchens has a different food concept. They are headed up by Sussex-based chefs with a passion for the city and for locally sourced produce wherever possible.

From Worthing, the line-up includes Caught by Crabshack, serving up a seafood menu and Ox Block by Masterchef winner Kenny Tutt, featuring flame-grilled cuts of meat.

The Argus: Tom MullanyTom Mullany

They are joined by Amalfi by VIP Pizza, which has been making waves at its bijou Neapolitan-themed pizzeria in Old Steine for years, the Asian-influenced Zest by Hanoi Kitchen and for sweet treats and pastries , Tart by Brighton’s Sugardough.

Tom Samandi of Lost Boys Chicken has been on board with Shelter Hall since day one. His concept, Pan, takes fried chicken to the next level with a choice of burgers and wings – and also vegan options – packed with punch from his secret recipe of 16 herbs and spices, with a nod to Asian influences most notably Korean kimchi and Chinese Szechuan pepper.

“We partnered with Shelter Hall for the soft launch last year,” he said. “I’ve always been keen to have a venue to ‘sling’ wings and fried chicken on the beach. Growing up in Brighton, this was a massive dream for me personally and I am so happy to be able to share my food with everyone locally and from afar.

“Working at Shelter Hall is fast-paced, vibrant and a lot of fun.”

The Argus: Tom SamandiTom Samandi

Shelter Hall has been keen not only to support chefs that have already got a foot in the door of the city’s food scene, but also entrepreneurs. The rotating New Venture Kitchen is an incubator for emerging talent and creative culinary ideas, giving chefs a four-month slot to build their brand and gain the skills and business experience they need to take their concepts to the next level.


The first occupant of the New Venture Kitchen is Tom Mullany, who has taken inspiration from the classic cuisine of Malaysia. Santan Boi’s menu includes Nasi – a coconut and peanut rice dish flavoured with spicy Sambal – alongside aromatic curries and Gado-Gado satay salad. It’s a long way from his previous career in digital advertising.

He said: “This is a project that will be launching new and exciting food offerings by giving founders a kitchen to cook from, customers to sell to and a whole host of support from Shelter Hall’s experienced team.

“Santan Boi is all about good, honest Malaysian food. We aim to transport you to the dining tables of one of the world’s most delicious and exciting cuisines.”

Tom buys as much meat, fruit and vegetables from local businesses as possible.

He said: “It’s a tough question for any food operator looking to accurately recreate a cuisine from another part of the world... there aren’t exactly many coconut trees on Brighton beach.

“That said, we have a great roster of independent local suppliers and will be looking to minimise food mile wherever possible.”

In addition to DJs on Friday and Saturday night, Shelter Hall has partnered with Audio Active and BIMM – two of Brighton’s influential music projects – to provide a performance platform for the city’s rising talent on Tuesdays, plus a packed programme of musicians and singers every Sunday.

The bar has a strong line-up of quality drinks from the South Coast including Albourne Estate, Bolney Wine Estate and Fitz sparkling wine from Sussex and Chapel Down from neighbouring Kent.

The venue also has two unique event spaces for private hire, including a mezzanine that can comfortably seat 50 guests and also the more intimate private dining room which can seat 12 guests.

Whether you pop in for a quick drink and snack, or make an afternoon or night of it, both Toms agree that Shelter Hall is a unique experience in Brighton.

“It’s an amazing open space to share and experience a wide range of top local food offerings and drinks,” said Tom Samandi.

“Sundays are great with live music for most of the day.”

“Just look at it,” said Tom Mullany. “The location is nothing short of spectacular. Add to that seven exciting food offerings, a cracking bar and some great Brighton music. It’s a no brainer.”

Shelter Hall is open daily from 8am with food and drink options running until midnight from Monday to Saturday and 10pm on Sunday.