A pair of ambitious chefs want to give the Bearpit a burrito bus. But they need your help and £15,000 to do it.
Robin Halpenny, right, and Simon Green, left, are the cofounders of Bearritos, the Mexican kitchen which was picked to take over the iconic 1979 Bristol VR bus now permanently parked in the Bearpit.
Robin, who is 33, lives in Bishopston with his partner Frankie and their two children, Dermot, one, and Shayla, three. Simon, 44, and his partner Joan, who works as a Spanish teacher, have lived in Bedminster for five years.
Together they were named as the preferred tenants of the bus by the Bearpit Improvement Group on March 1st.
Now they are asking the community to support a £15,000 crowdfunding campaign as they help realise a vision of the Bearpit as a thriving, safe, welcoming place.
How are you going to use the space?
Robin: The dining area will be on the top deck. The kitchen will be downstairs, where we’ll serve food to go. We can’t wait.
What motivated you to start Bearritos?
Robin: I travelled from Ireland to visit Bristol for a weekend in the summer of 2004 and fell in love with the place. I never left, apart from a couple of years I spent travelling in Mexico, where I fell head over heels for the food. When the opportunity came up to take on the bus, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to bring Bristol the freshest original Mexican street food, like I experienced on my travels. It’s great for me to be able to bring my two favourite places in the world together like this.
Simon: I imagine a striking and original place to eat good fresh food. I see the bus as a focal point for the Bearpit.
Any thoughts on the menu yet?
Simon: We want to bring authentic Mexican street food to a wider audience. The plan is to offer a range of desayunos, antojitos and almuerzos, accompanied by Mexican-influenced drinks.
Robin: Although the kitchen will be compact, there’ll be more than enough space to do all we want, including tacos, burritos, tortas, salsas, quesadillas, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, molletes… the list goes on. There will be plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, and our meat will always be ethically sourced.
How did that bus get there in the first place? Where did it come from?
Robin: The idea came straight from the community, with the Bearpit Improvement Group getting support from the Neighbourhood Partnership and Bristol City Council to develop trade in the Bearpit. PRSC then found the bus and brought it back home to Bristol to start its conversion.
How do you feel about being entrusted to make it a success?
Robin: There was a community tendering process, involving some great different food business startups and ideas. They assessed the food proposition, community approach and business acumen. I was delighted when the judging panel chose Bearritos to operate the bus.
You’re looking to raise £15,000 through Bristol-based crowdfunding service Fundsurfer. What do you need the money for?
Robin: Everything from kitchen equipment to electrics, plumbing, upholstery in the dining area, signage and some surprise finishing touches which will make the place extra special.
Simon: It’s an ambitious target but I think we can do it.
Crowdfunding campaigns usually give immediate rewards to investors. What treats are in store for your backers?
Simon: We have some great rewards planned, including exclusive meal deals, offers for group bookings and private parties, and even Bearritos tshirts. We’ll make sure that it’ll be worthwhile for everyone who steps forward to back us.
Are you happy to be joining the Bearpit family?
Robin: The Bearpit is such an interesting place right now. It has changed so much over the last few years and there are some really exciting things still to come. There are loads of projects going on to make the space greener, to make it a safe play space, and to fill it with community events and art. The Bearpit market is about to reopen. There are so many people involved and so many things going on that it’s going to keep evolving over many years. That’s the best part of it.
Simon: The Bearpit’s becoming a lively destination where people can come and pick up fresh fruit, enjoy a great cup of coffee and, soon, eat delicious Mexican food. It’s somewhere to meet friends and stay a while.
When do you plan to sell your first Bearrito?
Robin: Fingers crossed, we will start serving on the March 28th.
Pledge £5 towards the Bearrito bus and you’ll be able to enjoy a Bearritos main meal. For £20 you’ll get an exclusive t-shirt too - but try not to get any salsa down it.
To support the Bearrito Fundsurfer campaign visit: https://www.fundsurfer.com/project/bearritos