Cafe owners take business on the road to serve coffee at popular art gallery

Photo shows Helen and Ian Findlater at Compton Verney
Garden Shed-Cafe- at Compton Verney

The owners of a Wellesbourne café are going on the road by providing mobile catering at a popular Warwickshire visitor attraction.

The Garden Shed Café, which opened last September, has created a bespoke branded unit to provide catering at Compton Verney now visitors are starting to return to the estate.

The unit sells the café’s signature coffee, as well as a wide selection of its sandwiches, cakes pastries and ice cream, which are all made at the café and brought to Compton Verney on the same day.

The money coming in from the mobile catering, as well as the huge support from the people of Wellesbourne, has put The Garden Café in a better position than it might otherwise have been.

Owners Ian and Helen Findlater felt providing catering at Compton Verney was an opportunity that was too good to miss.

Ian said: “I regularly visit Compton Verney, and I know that the prospect of nice food and drink is a draw for a number of visitors, especially if they’ve travelled a long way to get there.

“When they were forced to close due to the pandemic, it was clear they also had to split from their previous caterers.

“As it began to reopen, I realised there was an opportunity for us to help them out by providing catering to the hundreds of visitors that were beginning to come back.

“Some people like to stay all day at Compton Verney, which means many fancy a coffee or a bite to eat during their visit.

“So far, it’s worked very well. We’ve had plenty of customers buying from the mobile unit, which has given us some much-needed extra income as we have come out of lockdown.

“While we have to be careful to make sure we’re not overstretched, we’re considering providing catering at similar venues in the future because of how successful it has been.”

Although The Garden Shed Café has done well out of its new venture, Ian and Helen stressed it was the support from Wellesbourne, as well as passing trade from cyclists, that really kept them going after reopening in April.

Ian and Helen have always felt a strong sense of community within the village – they only employ people from the community and the surrounding area, and their staff bake almost all of its products onsite.

“Everyone in Wellesbourne has been so supportive of the café,” Ian added.

“The fact that we have a beautiful garden has really helped us – we’ve been able to seat people outside once government restrictions were lifted, and we’ve had lots of people take advantage of that.

“It became like a lifeline for some people as it was one place where they didn’t have to be cooped up.

“Our café was a hit with passing cyclists too, as it’s on a few popular routes. We’ve even had some top triathletes from further afield have a pit stop here too.”

Ian and Helen are planning on making more improvements soon. As the weather is soon to get colder, they are set to make the garden more appealing for customers by installing coverings and heaters.

Ian said: “COVID has forced us to adapt to new challenges and think of new ways to appeal to customers, but I’m confident we can come out of lockdown stronger.

“The support of everyone has been fantastic, both at the café and at Compton Verney.  We have a very loyal team who keep creating fabulous food and ensure our customers get great coffee and a cheery smile, and that has continued all the way through his period.”