For anyone who has not been into town for a while, a welcome and tasty surprise awaits. The Brunel Shopping Centre has been undergoing a transformation this year and many of the centre’s new eateries are now open.

The Crossing, as the new food hub is named, is now two thirds complete and is already thriving.

The new food area is modern and bright and full height windows have totally transformed the old link bridge, the walkway that once connected the two sides of the shopping centre, into a light and airy communal eating and seating area. In fact, it is so different it is hard to tell which part of the old centre you are actually in.

Last month (November) three more food businesses joined those that opened earlier in the year.

Chopstix, an oriental noodle bar, is a familiar brand in shopping centres. They offer fresh chicken and vegetarian dishes accompanied by noodles or rice. Chopstix choosing The Crossing for their Swindon store is seen by the centre’s bosses as a vote of confidence in Swindon.

“This national chain is currently expanding and becoming a feature in many of the larger shopping destinations”, said Kevin Gwilliam General Manager of The Brunel. “The fact that Chopstix chose The Crossing for their first venue in Swindon is a real vote of confidence in us”.

The Crossing is also now home to several local businesses. Joining the very popular Eggelicious and McCtaffs tearooms are Tastes of Portugal and Desserts and More. Catering for Swindon’s 6,000 strong Portuguese community, as well as those seeking authentic Portuguese produce and cuisine, Tastes of Portugal is run by business owner Isabel Simoes. Isabel will be known to many already from her first shop in the old tented market where she built up a loyal following. Her shop sells Portuguese groceries, wines, beers and frozen fish, such as salted cod and sardines, and has a delicatessen counter where you can buy hams, preserved meats and traditional Portuguese rissoles. The cafe serves coffee the Portuguese way (strong and tasty!) and, of course, the famous Pastel de nata, or custard tarts, as they are well known. This is certainly the place to go if you want to experience a true taste of Portugal.

Opposite Taste of Portugal and next door to the recently relocated traditional sweet shop Sweets Galore, is Desserts and More. This brand new dessert parlour opened last month and word is spreading fast. It is joined to the sweet shop through an adjoining archway and run by Ian McCulloch, whose mum Anne runs Sweets Galore. Selling entirely desserts, ice cream and shakes the new shop has already made its mark in Swindon with the much talked about ice cream kebab! It’s just got to be tried.

Marketing Manager Jane Stewart is understandably pleased that the dream of The Crossing is now being realised. Jane said: “We are delighted with how it’s all finally coming together. Building within a 1970s structure whilst remaining open was always going to be a challenge and it has taken longer than we had hoped, but the finishing line is now sight!

“The new escalator entrance will bring more people into the centre which will benefit all of the retailers, not just the new food businesses. We also now have a wonderful new event space and will putting on regular entertainment.”

Plans for the next phase of The Crossing are well underway. There are a few units still to let but several more food businesses are already in the process of signing their leases with a view to opening soon after Christmas. With free wi-fi already available, new centre seating, the re-opening of the children’s soft play area and crèche, plus click and collect facilities coming next year, The Crossing looks to be a welcome addition to Swindon town centre.

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