The Daffodil was originally built in 1922 as an art-deco cinema. The last film was shown at the Daffodil in 1963 and it was then used as an antiques store until 1989. The restaurant opened on Valentine’s Day in 1998 after the building had laid out of use for a decade. It took owner Mark Stephens two years to restore the building featuring stunning mezzanine flooring, sweeping staircases, tinted mirrors and subdued low lighting. After the thorough restoration Mark Stephens sold the Daffodil only to buy it back again in February 2007.
Celebrity flamboyant designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen was given the task of redesigning the art deco restaurant in January 2008. Laurence said: “I want to make [the Daffodil] sexy. I want customers to walk in and think they have been transported back to the glamour of the 1920’s.”
Although the Daffodil is included in this Gloucestershire Pubs website it is strictly not a pub as the sale of alcohol is only permitted for diners. In October 2010 an application was submitted to Cheltenham Borough Council which would have enabled the Daffodil to serve alcohol to customers who were not dining. Mark Stephens said: “There is no danger of us becoming a pub. The variation on the license will purely allow us to cater for people who just want to have a drink, which under our current arrangement we cannot do. For the most, we have had overwhelming support from the community. A minority of people who are worried about us becoming a pub are misinformed. This will be a very minor change.”
As part of the Cheltenham Film Festival in November 2011 the Daffodil restaurant brought back silent movies at the old cinema for the first time in nearly half a century. The two special screenings were accompanied by live music from the 1920’s. The Daffodil also hosted a photographic exhibition courtesy of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta). Owner Mark Stephens said: “Seeing silent films evocative of the period when this building was in its heyday as a cinema is going to be exceptional.”
In April 2013 the Daffodil was used as a set for the BBC1 programme ‘Sherlock’. The finished programme starring Benedict Cumberbach and Martin Freeman was broadcast on New Years Day 2014.
An artisan delicatessen called The Chef’s Pantry opened next door to the Daffodil in April 2015. The new business was owned by Daffodil owner Mark Stephens with business partner James McAlpine. The deli was to hold produce made in house from the restaurant as well as selling new lines of wine and beer. A distinctive feature of the deli was a crustacean tank which held fresh lobsters.
There was widespread shock in January 2016 when the Daffodil suddenly closed, the business going into receivership. The popular restaurant was saved from permanent closure in March 2016 when Worcester based company ‘Browns at the Quay’ set up an investment plan of £3 million to allow the restaurant to receive a refurbishment. A spokesman for the company said: “We are not changing the wonderful art deco characteristics of the restaurant but will spend time and love renovating the venue to its previous glamour.” However, there was some confusion when Mitchells & Butlers, who looked after the press relations for Browns commented in the local press through their spokesman: “I’ve checked with our buildings department and we can confirm we have not acquired this restaurant.”