Bank on a good meal, at new food consortium ‘HEIST.’

This hot new spot in St. Leonards is cooking up a storm, bringing together a community of local businesses and produce, to welcome and cater for all…all under one roof! With the help of East Sussex Invest Funding (ESI) and support from Business Manager Emily Wright, they have now opened their doors to visitors!

"Working with all the local suppliers and people is amazing, they are so invested in the project and the area, it really feels like a group effort."

Kate O-NorumCo-Owner HEIST.


St Leonards on Sea
Food and Drink

HEIST. Market is a brand new permanent food market based in central St. Leonards, offering a consortium of food, beer, coffee and cocktails, as well as a resident restaurant ‘The Boatyard’. Offering an open space layout with communal tables, HEIST. brings the community together, allowing visitors to sample a variety of local produce for an affordable price. Inclusivity sits at the heart of this venture, meaning whether you are a worker looking for a lunch spot, a family looking for a quick bite to eat or a couple wanting to grab a morning coffee, there truly is something for everyone.

The beauty of HEIST. is its collaborative nature, pulling together a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills, and that starts with its founders Kate O’Norum, Ben O’Norum and Gillie Turner. All based locally, they share decades of experience between them within the market, festival, events and hospitality industries. From Japanese street food to an exclusive vermouth bar, locally baked goods to a fine dining experience, HEIST. is a seven day a week destination that works for both tourists and locals alike.

Kate O’Norum who alongside Heist is also the Owner of Farmyard and Boatyard restaurants in St. Leonards, told us when discussing the location of HEIST.

“We have been here (St. Leonards on Sea) for three years already and absolutely love it. It’s such a vibrant area with a huge a mix of people, so we felt it would be the perfect place for something like this. We have visited many communal food spaces over the years, and it just felt like it would work well here, bringing people from all walks of life together”

What’s in a name

The building where HEIST. is located, in Norman Road, St. Leonards on Sea, had sat empty for nearly 5 years after its previous tenant HSBC had moved on. A building full of character (and some disused bank vaults) Kate, Ben and Gillie saw a unique opportunity to bring it back to life, including a sweet reference to its previous purpose, in the new name. HEIST.

Kate told us

“We loved the idea that a disused building was being taken over by lots of local businesses and creating a space for eating and drinking in the community  – and it was, of course, a nod to its history as a bank too! We tried to keep as many of the original features of the bank as we could (the cladding on the Boatyard counter is reused from the walls of the bank manager’s office!) and to work with the building’s history.”

HEIST Market, Hastings
HEIST Market, Hastings
HEIST Market, Hastings
HEIST Market, Hastings
HEIST Market, Hastings

Local Support

Having been empty for some time, the building needed some significant investment to make it habitable again, so Kate reached out to Locate East Sussex to see what financial support might be available. She was put in touch with Business Manager Emily Wright who suggested the East Sussex Invest fund, which is funded by East Sussex County Council and delivered by Locate East Sussex. Emily provided 12 hours of free business support to aid her application, helping Heist to apply for £40,000 (£30,000 Loan and £10,000 grant) for the refit of the space. Reaching out to Locate East Sussex, also allowed Business Coach Jim Fletcher to assist, offering financial planning support, and the opportunity to provide a variety of business connections to help the space get up and running.

Kate commented on the support received

Emily has been fantastic. From day one she has been invested in it and has understood the vision and how it would help the community” She helped with all the paperwork and documents needed to complete the project.

One Big Family

With 8 vendors now opening their spaces within HEIST., the dream has now become a reality and it has become clear the eclectic mix available within the market. Drinks vendors include Coldbrew Coffee Co and The Three legs Brewery Co, and the food mix varies from Street food from Wild Dogz, and The Clam, and Asian cuisine from Arigato and Homeground Kitchen.

When asked how this interesting group came together Kate told us

It has all come together so well. We really wanted a nice mix of local businesses, and we have achieved just that. Some of our vendors we had existing relationships with through our other restaurants and others we have picked up along the way, as they had been looking out for a new place to call home. After the difficulties of the last 18 months, this was a great way for us to all come together and make our businesses viable and push them forward and make them successful. Working with all the local suppliers and people is amazing, they are so invested in the project and the area, it really feels like a group effort. It’s a lovely feeling, we are all a team, and if there is any issue, we all rally around to support and help each other. ”

One of HEIST’s vendors Yuka Yoshii Viellefon from Arigato told us:

“I come From Saitama, which is part of Greater Tokyo. I also lived in Osaka and Kyoto. In Japan, historically, with most major cities being ports and coastal areas, there is a long-established tradition of street food and delicatessen, market stalls, and street vendors. The fish would be sold and cooked straight away when the fishermen would dock. Today that is very much still alive, and food markets are still to be found everywhere. The quality is always amazing, with very fresh products, but each stall is specialised in a type of dish with a very specific menu. I was hoping to recreate this idea in Hastings / St Leonards because I live there. I was previously trading as a sitting Japanese restaurant and got very frustrated with the logistics of a formal restaurant. When the owners of Heist contacted me to become one of the traders, I could not believe my luck. The conditions were all perfect for me to establish my business as a casual Japanese food market stall, and fitted almost perfectly my original vision.

I think the Heist Market is a brilliant idea for a town of that size. It is very hard to have a full restaurant when the business is seasonal in a small coastal town. The Heist market is open 7 days a week 10 am until late in the evening all year round thanks to having a wider offering of foods and drinks. Overall I could not be happier.”


Being sustainable and environmentally friendly is very important to HEIST.  The founders’  vision doesn’t stop at local produce and suppliers, but Heist’s mission also extends to keeping waste as low as possible throughout. Whilst the strength of ‘fast food’ lies within its speed, variety, and affordability, its weaknesses also include the effect the ‘packaging’ then creates on the environment. To leave this stigma behind, HEIST. plans to make street food ‘greener’ by serving its food in reusable enamel containers, with dedicated staff on washing up duty.

Kate told us: We also have future plans to include a commercial wormery to recycle our biodegradable napkins and food waste, which will also act as an educational opportunity for local schools. We want Heist to be as much a responsible leader as well as a great place to visit.

What’s Next?

Along with the commercial wormery, Heist also has plans to expand its offering further in the coming months. Starting in September there will be a weekly farmers market, where local producers will be invited to take space to sell their goods on a Friday morning. There are also big plans to repurpose the old Bank Vaults into Karaoke rooms, which can be hired by the hour, and sure to provide hours of fun.

But for now, Kate, Ben, and Gillie are simply soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying seeing their vision come to fruition. Kate told us

“After all the hard work to get here, it’s lovely just to see people getting together and chatting and enjoying a drink or some food in a relaxed atmosphere. We have already had such a variety of people visiting us, all trying different items from each vendor. It’s so nice to see that collaboration and our idea come to life. We have been so grateful for all the local support we have received already, We are so excited for what comes next!”

Who’s Here?

A popular fish and seafood restaurant, relocated from Hastings Contemporary and joining sister restaurant FarmYard in St. Leonards

Coldblow Coffee
Already a popular supplier to the area, Coldblow Coffee Co now have their own dedicated spot serving some of the finest green coffee.

The Three Legs Brewery Co
Making the beers we all love to drink, Three Legs are serving up some of their best brews.

Wild Dogz
Joining Heist as their first permanent space, Wild Dogz shares its love of sausages serving up street food such as hot dogs, burgers and loaded fries.

Homeground Kitchen
Relocating from Hastings town centre, Homeground Kitchen offers a tasty Korean themed menu.

The Clam
New to this area, The Clam offers a variety of flatbread dishes, ready to tickle your tastebuds.

Relocating from their previous premises, Arigato is serving up traditional Japanese cuisine.

Offering a wide variety of vermouth and tasty cocktails, Wermutbar opens to entertain with a well stock supply of drinks.

Loire De Da
Natural wine shop and wine bar with refill natural wines on tap

Set to employ a minimum of 10 staff, Heist is already having a fantastic impact on the local area. The atmosphere is buzzing, with a constant hive of activity which we are sure will only increase as they fulfil their remaining development plans. Locate East Sussex have been delighted to be able to support this project, and wish Heist all the best for the future.

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