Dusty’s Pizza resumes Sophia Gardens Warden’s House renovation after lockdown hiatus

£43,000 of crowdfunding will allow the former park warden’s bungalow to be rebuilt with sustainability in mind, Dusty’s Pizza say

Empty park warden's bungalow with a JCB next to it, being rebuilt by Dusty's Pizza
Warden’s House lies on the edge of Sophia Gardens, close to Cardiff Castle and the Principality Stadium

Work has resumed on the restoration of Warden’s House in Sophia Gardens, led by the team behind Cardiff street food favourite Dusty’s Pizza.  

Internal clearance of the former warden’s bungalow began on 1 November, according to the project’s official Twitter page, @bydustyknuckle. Grounds clearance took place on 27 November in preparation for further transformation, including repairing water damage to the roof, in the New Year. 

Once complete, Warden’s House will be the company’s flagship restaurant, its website says, in addition to other locations including pizzerias in Canton, Roath and Barry. Dusty’s, formerly known as Dusty Knuckle, is currently undergoing a rebrand after being asked to change its name by a bakery in East London with the same name.

Sustainable, exciting, and independent

Dusty’s stated aim for the building is to create “one of the county’s most sustainable, exciting, independent restaurants,” according to the project’s Kickstarter page. It sought £40,000 of crowdfunding in order to apply sustainable principles to the renovation, the page says, including installing a rainwater recycling system, a composting machine and bi-fold doors. 

That target was reached in April 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the hospitality industry “to its knees,” forcing Dusty’s Pizza to halt all work on the renovation, a post on its website says. 

“At this point expansion couldn’t be considered, survival was necessary,” the website says, adding, “Any outstanding Kickstarter rewards will be honoured and we appreciate your patience regarding this.”

I think people are trying to decrease their footprint, and we never wanted to add to it

Dusty's Pizza at Bone Yard in Canton, Cardiff
Dusty’s already has a number of locations in Cardiff including one at Canton’s Bone Yard Credit: Dusty’s Pizza via Instagram

“I think people are starting to take more responsibility,” co-founder Debs Lewis told WalesOnline regarding the project’s sustainable principles in 2019. 

“We have noticed more with our customers they are more cautious with where food is coming from. I think people are trying to decrease their footprint, and we never wanted to add to it,” she said. 

Dusty’s Pizza did not respond to our requests for comment at time of publication.

What does Dusty’s Pizza want to use the crowdfunding for? 

  • Preserving the wood using Yakisugi, a traditional Japanese technique, instead of paint chemicals. 
  • Installing a rainwater recycling system.  
  • Installing a composting machine. 
  • Installing bi-fold doors to increase natural light and ventilation 
  • Introducing an employment scheme for disadvantaged groups 
  • Developing schemes to make the restaurant more accessible