Riverford Organic Vegetables founder Guy Watson plans to open an affordable ‘community’ restaurant in South London, The Grocer can exclusively reveal.

A site for the restaurant, which Watson hopes to open in the summer, has already been earmarked in Peckham. The site was chosen for its suitability to the Riverford brand, he said. “Our customers tend to be of more modest means and we want to be near areas of affordable family housing.”

Initially, the restaurant would be funded largely out of his own pension fund, he said. However, in the longer term, he hoped to “try to run it as some sort of social enterprise”.

The restaurant would also sell fresh vegetables and may incorporate a bakery that would supply bread for box schemes and for serving in the restaurant.

“What I want to achieve is what I’d call a ‘neighbourhood restaurant’,” he said, adding that it would be similar to the community restaurants of the 1960s, albeit run as more of a business.

Watson acknowledged that it was likely to prove difficult to get people through the door, given the economic outlook. However, the recession also offered opportunities, he claimed. “Leases are a hell of a lot cheaper than they were 18 months ago.

“I want to be ready to go when the upturn comes,” he added.