Lincolnshire Life Taste of Excellence Awards
The launch date for the 2020 competition has, of course, been postponed but we have been speaking to some of our award and citation winners from last year. Our stories illustrate how these outstanding businesses are responding to extremely difficult times in the community and for everyone in the Food, Drink and Hospitality sectors.
AS MORE businesses open with new guidelines in place for service, takeaways and deliveries, here are some of their stories.
STOKES SET FOR SERVING
When you think of the landmarks in Lincolnshire, one always seems to spring to mind. The High Bridge Café is housed on a medieval bridge dating back to 1160 and it’s the only site of its kind in the UK.
This unique Tudor building was lovingly restored by the founder of Stokes Tea & Coffee, which is still managed by the family business today. With the easing of the restrictions many high street retailers have resumed trading and customers are only too happy to visit and put their purchasing power behind local and independent shops. The High Bridge Café has, happily, also reopened following lockdown to offer delicious takeaway food and drink including Stokes’ famous coffee and tea – roasted and blended at its Lawn site in Lincoln.
Sally Eades is the restaurant manager at the High Bridge Café and has been a member of the Stokes team for almost 30 years. She loves working for such a long-standing family business, managing the flagship café where even her nan was a regular customer. Sally adores the cosiness and unique history of the place and customers really like her warm, welcoming approach.
She said: “Every day may be different, but we continually aim to provide the best service and most delicious food and drink to every customer, every time.”
As well as the takeaway menu on offer, customers can also get their coffee and tea and other retail products from the High Bridge Café and pick up their online orders too.
For more information visit www.stokescoffee.com or call 01522 523548
STAYING AGILE DURING LOCKDOWN
Manor Farm Shop, Leasingham, a family business established in 1964, was one of our finalists in the Taste of Excellence Farm Shop of the Year 2019. When lockdown was announced they had only just opened their new café. After just a week of trading they had to close this down and re-think how they were going to help the local community during this difficult time.
Many of the residents in Leasingham and surrounding villages fell into the vulnerable and shielding group so they moved fast to ensure that they could find a way to ensure that nobody was left without food provision. With supermarket delivery slots difficult to obtain and some residents grappling with technology they needed to act quickly.
During the grip of lockdown they set up a delivery service to reach people in surrounding villages, which extended as far as Woodhall Spa. It was a steep learning curve, putting a process in place and building a simple webshop for online orders. They got slicker as the days went by and as word got around they were handling hundreds of orders every week. Their endeavours have been supported by eight volunteers and they couldn’t have done it without them.
The empty café soon became a call centre/delivery hub as the team did their best to schedule all the requirements, from a bottle of milk through to compost bags and bird seed sacks, into separate delivery days across the surrounding villages and they got it right most of the time. The strawberry supplier has really sturdy stackable boxes, which came in handy for packing the deliveries!
Their own animals on the farm and the animals in the neighbourhoods were not aware of Covid-19 but still need to be cared for, so Manor Farm Shop created a one-way drive thru system for people needing animal feed or point of lay chickens; although straw was also in demand for the Leasingham scarecrow competition in May.
Now that some of the lockdown measures are easing, Manor Farm Shop have adapted yet again to help their local community shop safely. They have brought the grocery shop outside by creating a market in the farmyard and brought bedding plants from their garden centre into the main yard so people can browse and shop in plenty of space in the open air. All the social distancing measures are in place; they open early for a couple of hours exclusively for those who have been shielding.
They also recognised that there are still many vulnerable people who are apprehensive about getting out of the car and browsing, so there is also a collection service for those who order in advance which is more manageable for some.
“I hope we are doing right by our customers,” says Gill Burton, owner of Manor Farm Shop. “We have had some lovely comments, with many telling us that we were their ‘lifeline’ during full lockdown. We have all pulled together as a community to help one another and we appreciate the kind messages and gifts we have received from existing and new customers. Hopefully their gardens and hanging baskets are looking pretty too.”