Yvonne Lewis and her team
Clare Burnett

Yorkshire businesswoman returns home after global career to head up Northallerton café

A chef’s daughter with a career in hospitality that has taken her around the world and back is home to take the helm at a popular North Yorkshire tearoom.

Yvonne Lewis started her life in catering washing up at what was then the family restaurant, Plummers, in Bedale. She is now managing the tearooms and new coffee lounge, Lewis & Cooper in Northallerton.

After studying leisure and tourism, Yvonne, 32, spent eight years with TGI Friday’s, becoming a staff trainer working with staff from Wales to the West End.

A spell as a trainee manager on a US cruise ship operating on the Texas and Mexican coast followed, before Yvonne returned to North Yorkshire and took up the job of Brasserie manager at Rockcliffe Hall, Hurworth, working with star chef Kenny Atkinson.

At the Northallerton store, Yvonne has already helped oversee the conversion of its former first floor gifts area into an attractive new coffee lounge to augment its traditional tearooms with their view of the county town’s High Street.

Work will start shortly on expanding the kitchen to enable an expansion of the menu, which already leans heavily on the local produce stocked downstairs in the award-winning deli and foodstore.

Yvonne said: “I was attracted to a family-run business that had a great reputation for quality and for supporting quality local food producers.”

As well as bringing her experience in staff training to Lewis & Cooper, Yvonne plans to capitalise on the expanded lounge area – complete with comfortable leather sofas and free wi-fi – for more events, augmenting the firm’s popular programme of lunch clubs and tutored wine tastings.

Lewis & Cooper chairman, Dr David Gearey, said: “We are delighted to be able to have someone of Yvonne’s calibre and experience on board in our Northallerton tearooms and new coffee lounge.

“She brings a huge amount of energy to the role and has already made an excellent impact.”

The tearooms opened in time for the firm’s centenary celebrations in 1999 and were created from its former managers’ quarters.

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