Butterfly-themed café opens as part of plans for five-acre insect park

Chef Andy Larwood in the Chrysalis Café in Lenwade with café assistants Shirley Meadows, centre, and Charmaine Bevan.

Chef Andy Larwood in the Chrysalis Café in Lenwade with café assistants Shirley Meadows, centre, and Charmaine Bevan. - Credit: Denise Bradley

A butterfly-themed café has opened in the Norfolk countryside ahead of a five-acre insect zoo launching at the site later this year. 

Martin French, 61, from Old Catton, has opened The Chrysalis Café in Nowhere Lane, in Lenwade, which is decorated with pictures of butterflies and moths. 

Martin French in one of the rooms of bugs with two giant land snails.

Martin French in one of the rooms of bugs with two giant land snails. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Mr French runs company BugzUK and work is well underway to build the country's first major invertebrate park at the site, previously the home of the Great Witchingham Wildlife Park. 

He is hoping to have the park open by the end of May, dependent on building work, but in the meantime people can get a taster of what to expect in the café. 

Martin French in Chrysalis Café which he has opened with a butterfly theme.

Martin French in Chrysalis Café which he has opened with a butterfly theme. - Credit: Denise Bradley

There is free parking and indoor and outdoor seating and on offer are main meals, quiches, full English breakfasts, jacket potatoes, soups and hot and cold drinks.

The chef is Andrew Larwood, who has worked in many Norfolk establishments and eventually they want to do edible insect dishes too. 

Breakfast dishes at the Chrysalis Cafe in Lenwade.

Breakfast dishes at the Chrysalis Cafe in Lenwade. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Mr French said: "We opened the café last Friday and have had a stream of people through, which we are hoping to slowly build up ahead of opening the park.

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"It is something different with good food in nice surroundings in the middle of the countryside." 

The BugzUK invertebrate park is set to open by the end of May. 

The BugzUK invertebrate park is set to open by the end of May. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Mr French previously worked as a chartered accountant, but his passion was breeding tropical invertebrates in his garden shed. 

The site will begin with three visitor centres with 15 zones where people can see all different types of creatures, ranging from tarantulas to millipedes, alongside a gift shop and the café.

Martin French with a giant land snail at his BugzUK park in Lenwade, which is opening soon. 

Martin French with a giant land snail at his BugzUK park in Lenwade, which is opening soon. - Credit: Denise Bradley

The park will then be developed over the next ten years.

Mr French added: "I have found that a lot of people who are not necessarily interested in insects are surprised how interested they are when seeing different things.

An Assassin bug at the park, which is opening soon. 

An Assassin bug at the park, which is opening soon. - Credit: Denise Bradley

"Visitors will have never seen 95pc of the insects before, not like a normal zoo where you can see lions and tigers elsewhere." 

Mr French will breed most of the insects himself, with others sourced from across the UK and abroad.

A Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.

A Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. - Credit: Denise Bradley

The Chrysalis Café is currently open Wednesday to Sunday 8.30am to 3.30pm/4pm