The co-owner of Braintree’s newest coffee shop hopes its launch has marked the start of bright new era for the town.

Toast, in High Street, opened to the public for the first time on Saturday during a special ceremony which was attended by dozens of shoppers and Braintree MP James Cleverly.

The eaterie offers more than 130 different spreads to go with a slice of toast, along with a variety of classic hot and cold drinks.

Mr Ely, who also runs the award-winning Chophouse restaurant a stone’s throw from Toast, says he was keen to set up his new venture to “put his money where his mouth is” and take a lead on the new vision for the town centre.

The Braintree Town Partnership chairman has been fully supportive of plans to pedestrianise High Street and turn it into a place to eat, drink and socialise.

He said: “One of the reasons I wanted to set this up here is because of my role in the town partnership, and I really believe in Braintree.

“I think with the right people and the right ideas, we will turn the town around. Pedestrianisation will play a big part in this but we need everyone to get involved and help.

“This is a pilot but if this one works, we’re hoping to set up a couple more.

“The idea for this coffee shop has been in my head for a long, long time, purely because it appeals to everyone.

“Toast gives us a unique selling point. It appeals to the toddler who wants a slice of toast when their mum or dad is grabbing a coffee, the fitness buff who wants some protein from a nut-based spread, or even the pensioner who wants the marmalade they have every day.”

Mr Ely admits he has been surprised by the successful start enjoyed by Toast, which is co-owned by Dan Pearson and Louis McNamee.

And despite some “teething problems”, he is hopeful he could launch Toast coffee shops in other areas if it proves a hit with visitors.

He added: “The launch day went really well and we had some great feedback. I was expecting to have a few cynical comments but I would say it has largely been positive or constructive comments we have had.

“It was very busy on Saturday and we had people queueing out the door until about 4pm.

“Of course it’s the honeymoon period so next week will be the real test.

“This is a pilot but if this one works, we could look at setting up a couple more.”