Poppy's Barn
(L-R) Poppy's Barn owner Stuart Boardman, Poppy the dog, and Iain Peate, relationship manager at NatWest.

Animal friendly café gallops towards major growth

An Essex tearoom which welcomes dogs, horses and walkers alike is doubling its capacity after a successful first six months of trading.

Poppy’s Barn Tea Room, in Clavering, opened its doors in August 2019 with the help of a five-figure funding package from NatWest, a grant from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and a personal investment from business partners and owners, Stuart Boardman and Philip Smith.

The funding from NatWest financed a full fit-out of the barn – which was self-built and completed by its owners – including lighting, furniture, a fully-kitted kitchen and the creation of an office for their web design business, Corsto Web Design.

After becoming a hot spot in the local area, the owners have opted to double the café’s 24-seat indoor capacity and create room for an additional 15 guests outside the premises. Plans are also underway to open a separate bakery, selling their freshly-made sourdough bread already served at the café.

Stuart and Philip run Poppy’s Barn alongside Reece Pledger, the café’s chef, with Freddie Evans and Emma Lister front-of-house. Once the expansion is completed by Spring 2020, the pair plan to grow the team further offering local employment to more people.

Stuart said: “We started building the premises on Boxing Day in December 2017 and worked hard to build 120 sqm of space that would house our expanding web design business, as well as a village tearoom that would attract walkers and cyclists enjoying the surrounding Essex countryside.

“Since the tearoom opened in summer 2019, we have been staggered by its popularity and it now makes sense to expand to meet this demand. We will continue to serve high-quality food sourced from local suppliers and offer a relaxing environment for a drink or light-bite to eat.”

Iain Peate, relationship manager at NatWest, said: “We provided funding to allow Stuart and Phil to open the tearoom and the fact they are already expanding is testament to its success and their hard work. We wish them every success as they grow a fantastic business within an Essex village community.”

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