Cornwall garden centre taken over by pizza fries founders

A couple who built up a successful street food business before the pandemic hit are now growing what they offer by taking on a garden centre near Helston.

Lindsey and Jamie Hibbert set up Bite Me Catering in 2018 and had built up a strong following, attending events all Cornwall – initially with their ‘crispy hot cakes’ invention and roasts before more recently moving on to pizza topped fries and burgers.

Then, in March, the coronavirus pandemic hit and like so many other businesses their trade came to a halt as events were cancelled.

What could have meant disaster, however, turned into the offshoot for a new opportunity, as they found a pitch at Wendron Plant Nursery, on the road between Helston and Wendron – and with it a job offer.

Lindsey said: “Because of Covid-19 and the fact festivals are cancelled Bite Me Catering looked for a safe, local place to provide our food.

“Myself and Jamie have a longstanding friendship with Ben and Kim, who own the land here. They offered us a spot for us to trade from so we were able to keep Bite Me Catering functioning at a basic level.

“The pre-order, cashless payments and distanced collection meant that even though we are shielding a vulnerable child we could safely continue.

“We started by tidying up the garden centre parking area where we serve, and put in pretty boarders. The owners mentioned that they were looking for new management for the nursery and I felt it would be a really good opportunity – especially with the current climate and people looking to go to places outdoors.”

The pair now plan to combine the two businesses, keeping their catering trailer onsite for takeaways and they hope to be able to offer a delivery service soon also.

On the plant nursery side, they have begun offering appointment slots for people still shielding who can visit the centre when it is closed to the public and look round on their own.

The plant nursery also already has its own onsite cafe that Lindsey will be running, initially as a takeaway service to begin with, which she hopes to have up and running by August.

“The cafe is really exciting me – it will be called @taste,” she said.

“We have lots of tables and chairs dotted about. As regulations relax further I will then open up the cafe to eat in.”

Visitors to the garden centre will still be able to use the two outdoor play park areas, as well as visit the centre’s resident goats and chickens that can be fed.

However, the indoor soft play area was not passed on as part of the business and its owners are understood to have new plans for the building.

Plans for the future include growing the plant side of the business even further and introducing salad bags for sale, which will be cut and bagged fresh from the polytunnel.

Lindsey added: “It’s great to have such a great opportunity so close to home and provide a really nice environment and service to locals.

“Having spent the last couple of years catering, a cafe for me is a dream. With the added bonus of having a pretty lovely area to provide dining in and around the plants.

“Both myself and Jamie really love gardening and watching plants grow; it’s a perfect match – food and plants!”

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