New vegan cafe Offbeet takes Albert Road by storm as owners fulfil ambitions of opening in Southsea

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Owners of a critically acclaimed vegan café have achieved their dream of opening in Southsea.

Offbeet has been taking Albert Road by storm since launching in May with its entirely plant-based menu. Owner Peter Axworthy, alongside his partner Vicky Allen, agree that all the hard work has paid off.

Mr Axworthy, 43, told The News: “We were initially extremely busy when we opened, as there was a lot of anticipation. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for years.

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Joint owners, Peter Axworthy and Vicky Allen, at Offbeet Vegan Cafe in Albert Road, Southsea. Picture: Habibur RahmanJoint owners, Peter Axworthy and Vicky Allen, at Offbeet Vegan Cafe in Albert Road, Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Joint owners, Peter Axworthy and Vicky Allen, at Offbeet Vegan Cafe in Albert Road, Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman

"We love Southsea and it’s a bustling place full of independents. For a business like us, it’s hard to get in because there are chains everywhere.

“Southsea really seems to promote independent business, and there is a really big and supportive community here.” The restaurateur started Offbeet nearly a decade ago in The New Forest.

It had received rave reviews from The Times and The Sunday Telegraph. Mr Axworthy said the business was a catalyst for his decision to go vegan from an ethical standpoint – having always been an animal lover.

“I encourage people to come in and give it a go,” he said, “It’s a vegan eatery for non vegans. The menu has been designed to entice people in and bring some familiarity.

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Peter and Vicky said they hope to be operating in Southsea for years to come. Picture: Habibur RahmanPeter and Vicky said they hope to be operating in Southsea for years to come. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Peter and Vicky said they hope to be operating in Southsea for years to come. Picture: Habibur Rahman

“There’s no propaganda, and we’re still here after nine years, so it seems to be working." The 43-year-old added that there are a lot more options for vegan food and it is less of a cult-like hippie movement and more mainstream.

He added that his passion for vegan cuisine highlights “show-stopping flavours” and thinking outside the box. “It did the opposite to what I thought it would,” he said.

“It reignited my passion for cooking, and from that point on, it lit the fire to keep on innovating and creating new things.” It took 18 months for the location to be fully refurbished and ready for customers.

Ms Allen, who has been a vegan since she was 19, said some customers have even travelled from The New Forest to try their stunning food with everything made from scratch including the vegan cheese.

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The front counter at Offbeet in Albert Road, Southsea. Picture: Habibur RahmanThe front counter at Offbeet in Albert Road, Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman
The front counter at Offbeet in Albert Road, Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman

One of the standout items includes a chickpea dish with a “poached egg” made from set soya cream with carrot purée as a yolk. “What I love about here is that nothing is pre-made or processed,” she said.

“It's healthier for people, good for the animals, good for the environment, and there are so many reasons why I’m proud to be a part of it." The owner added that Southsea has definitely become Offbeet’s long-term home.

She said: "We’re starting to get to know the community in Southsea. This area is so community based, which we love. Coming from near Southampton way, it’s just not like it there.

“Everyone here seems to look out for everyone and help everyone. We always wanted to come here and to be part of it is really nice.” Mr Axworthy said his ambition was always to open a business in Southsea, and hopes Offbeet will be in Albert Road for years to come.

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"We just want to get people involved, cooking and trying food,” he added. “It’s not about me telling you that you shouldn't eat chicken. Give it a try, and if it tastes great, then why not try more vegan food.”

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