Clavering tea room Poppy's Barn set to expand to double the size after successful first six months
Expansion is on the menu at a village tea room as it prepares to double in size after being open for only six months.
Poppy's Barn in Clavering has proved to be such a hit since serving its first cuppa in August 2019 that owners Stuart Boardman and Philip Smith are increasing the size of the kitchen and adding an extra seating area for 24 customers.
Plans are also under way to open a separate bakery, selling the freshly-made sourdough bread served at the café.
Stuart and Philip opened for business last summer following an 18-month self-build with the aid of £35,000 funding from NatWest as well as a personal investment and a grant from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The work entailed a full fit-out of the barn including lighting, furniture, kitchen installation and putting in an office for their company Corsto Web Design.
The business partners – who serve up breakfasts, light lunches and cakes using locally-sourced ingredients – run the tea room alongside chef Reece Pledger with front-of-house staff Freddie Evans and Emma Lister.
They plan to grow the team further once expansion is completed in the spring.
"We started building the premises on Boxing Day in December 2017 and worked hard to build 120 square metres of space that would house our expanding web design business, as well as a village tea room that would attract walkers and cyclists enjoying the surrounding Essex countryside," said Stuart.
"Since the tea room opened in summer 2019 we've 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."