Northampton Saints has sought to utilise Franklin’s Gardens during the Premiership Rugby shutdown by launching a new pop-up restaurant experience at the stadium.

Working in association with catering company Burnt Lemon, the concept will see 12 hospitality boxes within the stadium’s Barwell Stand transformed into private dining booths, allowing guests to enjoy a meal with friends or colleagues in a COVID-secure fashion.

The first night will be held on August 8, with the restaurant to be run by the award-winning James Peck, star of BBC television show The Chefs’ Brigade, and owner of Northamptonshire-based Burnt Lemon Chefs.

A nine-course evening tasting menu has been priced at £90 (€100/$114), with the five-course option coming in at £60. Guests will have access from their box to a limited area of the stadium bowl, which will be regularly sanitised and socially distanced from guests in other boxes.

Burnt Lemon @ Franklin’s Gardens will allow the stadium to be open on non-matchdays, bringing in extra revenue for the club with usual turnover significantly impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown. “We’re very excited to open our doors to the public for the first time since the lockdown began, and to offer a unique dining experience,” said Ed Turnham, head of sales at Northampton Saints.

“Hosting great events, as well as rugby matches, is a huge part of what we do at Franklin’s Gardens. We hope we can welcome some new faces to our pop-up restaurant, as well as some familiar ones, as we all look to try to get back to normal together.”

No Premiership matches have been played since March 8 due to COVID-19, with nine rounds of the 2019-20 regular season still remaining. Premiership Rugby is currently targeting August 14 as a resumption date.

The start of the season saw Franklin’s Gardens open its own ‘Tunnel Club’, granting supporters unrivalled behind-the-scenes access whilst experiencing what the club describes as “first-class hospitality”.

Northampton claimed it was the first rugby club in the world to offer this type of hospitality experience, with the suite located within the existing Church’s stand at pitch level beside the players’ changing rooms.

In other news, Saints have today (Tuesday) agreed a new partnership with WeTrack to support the club’s venue management and matchday operations until 2023. WeTrack’s incident management and event control module combines incidents, logs, checklists, tasks and jobs and enables location mapping, contingency planning and an overall dashboard view.

Their new venue checks module allow events and venues to automate their checks before opening and throughout the day. Saints hope this will provide greater efficiency, accountability and confidence in the readiness of the Franklin’s Gardens site.

“At Northampton Saints we pride ourselves on delivering a fantastic experience for all visitors to the Gardens,” said Mark Darbon, Saints chief executive. “Getting this right is dependent on having in place best-in-class operational processes and procedures. We are delighted to be working with the WeTrack team to help us do just that.

“Their platform, which has been deployed at major events all around the world, will be invaluable for our matchday and major events teams.”

Image: Northampton Saints