Everyone's Invited

In this month’s column, I want to introduce you to a local food ‘activist’, Tom Herbert. Some of you may know him as the front man of Hobbs House Bakery, others from the TV programme ‘The Fabulous Baker Brothers’, in which he starred with his brother, Henry, a successful chef. But it is for his latest venture at The Long Table in Stroud that his work really came to my attention.

If you haven’t already visited The Long Table, I urge you to get yourself, your friends and your families down there pronto. Based in Brimscombe Mill, it’s a hangar of a building, but as with all great things, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And let me tell you, there’s a lot going on inside this particular mill!

 Set beneath twinkling fairy lights, long communal tables fill the gaping void, with enough places to seat over 100 people. People are buzzing around the space, there’s a warm glow from the café bar and a busy efficiency coming from the kitchen. Members of the public sit in groups, with friends, by themselves, but no-one is lonely. There’s chatter and laughter and general good vibes. And there’s delicious, locally-sourced food flowing from the serving hatch all night.


It’s hard to explain, but there’s a kind of magic that happens at The Long Table. It’s a place where everyone has access to great food and people to eat it with. Where locally sourced and lovingly prepared food is available to everyone, regardless of their social or financial background. Where everyone is invited.

Before you go thinking this is some hippy dippy Stroud thing, you really need to go and try the food for yourself. This isn’t some sort of spin-off soup kitchen. This is locally-sourced food done well. It’s the sort of place I can take my wife and four children – and their friends – to for a great meal out and come home with change from £50. If I want to. Or I could pay more – if I want to.

You see, The Long Table works on a business model that is built entirely on trust. You only pay what you can afford, and if that’s nothing, then the meal is on the house. The average cost to make each meal is around £7.50 (it varies from month to month depending on the ingredients). Those who want to give more are encouraged to ‘pay it forward’, to donate a meal for someone who might not be able to afford their own. There is no stigma attached – no-one knows how much you pay for a meal – but for all the naysayers and doubting Thomas’s out there, the figures are enough to restore your faith in humanity.

When Tom founded The Long Table in 2018, he was already a well-known figure in the Cotswolds food scene. Good quality food has always been the driving force behind what he does, whether that’s making the best sourdough in the area (open to debate – answers on a postcard please!), writing cookbooks people actually want to use, and now creating a space where local produce can be celebrated and good food is put firmly at the centre of the community.

Eating together has never felt more right.


To find out more about The Long Table and how you can get involved, click the link below.