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Reading Town Hall

A new café that aims to be at the heart of the local Reading community.


  • New café in grade II listed building
  • Bold and striking servery design
  • Part of multimillion-pound refurbishment



As part of the wider multimillion-pound refurbishment of the entire town hall, IFSE were invited by the main contractor to work with the team to put forward a proposal for the design and delivery of a new café in the Grade II listed building. The space would provide a premium deli/restaurant service with a particular focus on pizzas and would need to complement the existing fabric and history of the building.



The result was a new destination in the heart of the local Reading community that focused on freshly prepared dishes with locally sourced produce.

Trading as The Pantry; the name is a nod to The People’s Pantry restaurant that used to sit near the town hall in Blagrave Street. The People’s Pantry was set up during World War II as an emergency feeding centre and meeting place, it offered meals to add to the rations given to families during the war.

The main servery featured bold royal blue tiling that was complimented against brass framework and bold grey variety patterned flooring. These bold patterns were juxtaposed against clean white countertops and wood planking as a wall feature.

In the seating area, a mixture of traditional dining, soft seating, and high capacity stool seating was specified to suit all types of diners. The seating area featured a long curved banquette seating section which followed the length of the wall and backed onto the low-level windows and existing features.

Marble effect table tops enhanced the overall high-quality feel to the space.



Understanding the façade and the fabric of the building could not be altered and due to the café’s location below street level, running new ductwork for the ventilation from the pizza oven and front of house equipment would be disruptive and could not be achieved.

The IFSE design team went back to the drawing board, worked closely with the local council and health officers to discuss a route forward. Under consultation, we, therefore, specified a pizza oven that could discharge the ventilation into the kitchen void which could subsequently be dealt with by the main kitchen extraction canopy.


Richard Smith, Sales Manager at IFSE who spearheaded the project said

“We’re really excited to see the transformation at Reading Town Hall come to fruition. It was a pleasure to work with the local council team and the main contractor. The cafe is now a destination in the heart of Reading.”


Website – The Pantry
News article from Reading Town Hall – Transformation at the Town Hall
News article from Reading Town Hall – Reading Town Hall Transformation Complete
Berkshire Live – New Reading café aims to be at the heart of the community


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