The East Beach Cafe was created by mother and daughter team Jane Wood and Sophie Murray. Both residents of Littlehampton, an opportunity arose for them to buy a beachfront site with planning permission for a business - the only site on a beautiful, unspoilt seafront – and they realised they could create something really special for the town, not just architecturally but economically, by building a stunning piece of architecture and creating a destination restaurant. They wanted to create something different, something spectacular that would not only enhance the natural landscape, but put Littlehampton firmly on the map.
Jane and Sophie are both passionate about great food and decided to open and run the restaurant together, rather than handing it over to an operator. This decision was cemented when they began working in the kiosk – the existing building as they bought it, which they had to run to see what would work well in it’s place – they loved dealing with people; the friendly locals and the relaxed pace of life.
After leaving Oxford University as a scholar, Sophie worked on the Sunday Telegraph magazine as Assistant Consumer Features Editor where she had an interiors shopping page. Her job involved writing interiors stories, and styling merchandise, food and interiors photoshoots. She loved the challenge and variety that journalism brought her, but when the opportunity arose, she felt she could fulfil a dream.
Jane is a founder of Littlehampton Focus, a local action group on issues such as conservation, public transport and local amenities. She bought into Littlehampton in 2002 as a small personal investment and fell in love with its charm. Her aspiration, like Sophie’s, is to bring the very best out of Littlehampton - to improve services, amenities and opportunities for local people, as well as attracting visitors to the beautiful town.