Simon Carlin has cooked up a recipe for success after taking on a dream opportunity to run a restaurant and café for Staffordshire Housing Group.
Former sales manager Simon was among applicants when the Stoke based housing association offered the chance to a caterer to establish a business at the West End Village.
After coming out of a contract with a large, national catering company, Staffordshire Housing Group decided to offer a year’s rent free use of the West End Village’s catering facilities to a local caterer.
“They are a community based organisation and wanted to give a local caterer a chance,” said Simon, aged 54, of Springfields, Stoke-on-Trent.
“I was working as a food sales representative but also had experience as a catering manager for large outside catering events. I saw a story about it in the local newspaper (the Sentinel) and it really did seem like too good an opportunity to miss.”
Having moved into the business premises in August, Simon has quickly established a growing business, creating jobs for eight people including two apprentices.
“It was important to get the fundamental foundations in place and I did that by recruiting a good chef.
“With having regular customers such as West End Village residents here, I also believe it is important to have a familiar, reassuring face around the premises and I am here to regularly greet customers and have a chat about the football and the news.
“We have grown the trade, with more residents coming down for their meals along with staff from the adjoining West End Village offices.
“More people from the local community are also now coming in and this is an aspect of the business that we need to develop and shout about, as it is a little bit of a hidden gem.”
The West End Village provides more than 100 apartments for people aged over-55. The restaurant is open to the public from Monday to Friday and Simon is embarking on a campaign to further increase its popularity with local residents.
“It has been great for me,” said Simon. “I had to prepare a business plan and get a new accountant and now I have a growing limited company providing employment for local people in North Staffordshire and working with Stoke-on-Trent College to train apprentices.”
“The feedback from customers has been good and we are getting more customers using the facilities on a more regular basis.”
Gina Copper, West End Village manager said: “We are a community based organisation and are keen to support job creation and business in the Stoke-on-Trent area.
“There was an obvious risk in moving away from the tried and tested national catering contractors, but Simon has taken on the challenge and is providing customers with fresh, fine food at competitive prices.”
Notes to Editors:
For media enquiries contact Sarah Pye on 01782 743883.
Based in Stoke on Trent with homes and services throughout Staffordshire and East Cheshire, the Staffordshire Housing Group comprises Staffordshire Housing Association, Arch, Blue Mountain and Revival Home Improvement Agency. The group is dedicated to creating opportunities and changing lives by providing high quality homes and services to a diverse range of people.
Parent company Staffordshire Housing Association owns and manages around 3,000 homes for rent and sale, and also delivers regeneration and housing development.
Revival, the group’s home improvement agency, works with older and vulnerable people to maintain their properties, help them return home from hospital, adapt their homes to suit their health needs and maintain their independence.