In the fifth century, a rotisserie would be slowly turned by a servant tasked with cracking the spit to ensure that the skewered meat was cooked evenly.
And while automation has done away with the need for a ‘spit boy’ as they were affectionately termed, the core concept of fresh produce cooked over a roaring fire lives on at Spitroast.
Specialising in bringing the ancient form of cooking into a 21st century setting, Spitroast Ormskirk is the epitome of going back to basics.
Working with free-range poultry and fresh produce prepared with care, the restaurant is all about taking good ingredients, prepping them well, and cooking them with skill and precision using a time-honoured method.
The rest tends to sort itself out.
“It’s honest food,” says Adam Lunt simply. Director and owner of the restaurant, Adam also runs two other Spitroast branches in Liverpool and Crosby and relishes the chance to reiterate that the restaurant’s secret is simplicity and precision.
“It’s good quality ingredients: treat them right and cook them in the right way and it all ends up great,” he says.
Adam grew up in southern Spain, spending his formative years under the Andalusian sunshine. “I had a good childhood!” says the Liverpool-born businessman. “There was lots of rotisserie chicken and that type of food - it was the staple takeaway - so I decided to turn it into a restaurant chain. I’d trained as a chef years ago and I always wanted my own place.”
His own place soon grew into three, with the latest branch opening up in the former Buck I’Th’ Vine pub in Ormskirk, which dates back as far as the late 17th century. Empty since 2014, the former pub has been thoroughly revitalised under Adam’s ownership with the premises reborn as Spitroast in August. Adam also runs a pub named the Buck Inn alongside the restaurant.
“I try and keep it healthy, so a lot of what we do is good, clean food which is organic where possible,” explained Adam, 33. “There was an opening for affordable, healthy food, and my Mediterranean background lends itself to local, healthy stuff with plenty of vegetables: our side orders section is very veg-based, so veggies and vegans can find things to eat as well, although they might not think to come to a chicken restaurant!”
Now employing almost 90 employees across his four establishments - including the 22 members of staff at Spitroast Ormskirk - Adam calls his latest Spitroast venture a ‘vibrant restaurant catering for all walks of life,’ which boasts a growing proportion of business coming from the takeaway side of things.
Who could say no to some succulent roast chicken of an evening, after all?
“I absolutely love it; I wouldn’t do anything else,” said Adam of his busy job overseeing the restaurants. “I study food and drink and really enjoy the industry. It’s not glitz and glamour, there’s a lot more hard work involved in it than people think, but I love it.
“I started off cooking in our first restaurant for the first two years that we were trading: I was the general manager, the chef, the cleaner...” he added. “Nowadays, I’m more overseeing everything and the operations side is vast and getting bigger all the time. It can get tough, but it’s all part of the curve.
“You’ve got to build it up, but it pays off in the end if you’ve got something good.”
And they certainly have something good going on at Spitroast.
Now enjoying the success of his years of hard work, Adam is showing patience is a virtue, whether it’s reflected in the time invested in the business or the time it takes to properly cook a rotisserie chicken.
“We do our best to keep the customers happy, that’s the main thing,” said Adam. “Whoever comes in, I want them to leave happy, tell their friends, and come back.”
“There’s a lot of pride in it, we’ve got a good thing going on,” he added.