Keeping it in the Westcountry with new restaurant build

A SOMERSET garden centre is aiming to keep the majority of the building work for its new restaurant with small to medium-sized businesses from the Westcountry (2014) rather than employing construction firms from further afield.

Monkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre is expanding its Four Seasons Restaurant and is handling key components of the build in-house as well as sub-contracting to professionals and craftspeople in the Westcountry.

Mike Lind, Managing Director of the garden centre at Monkton Heathfield in Taunton, said: ?The key jobs will be undertaken by Project Manager, Steve Butterworth, however there are some jobs, such as electrics, plumbing and woodwork, which we will be sub-contracting to other businesses.

?We?re committed to the local community and we?re keen to keep as much of the work as we can within the Westcountry. We will be sub-contracting to organisations and craftspeople from the area.

?Two of the main contractors appointed are from Taunton. REF Electrics Ltd are the electrical contractors and Heat Radiation Ltd are the mechanical contractors. We have appointed Bartlett of Exeter who will be handling the procurement and installation of the kitchen equipment together with the front of house counters, joinery and internal fit out. We have also continued to work on-site with MBH Industrial Services Ltd on all gas works. These appointments confirm our commitment to work with local businesses.?

The new restaurant, due to open in spring 2015, will seat 350 and the food will continue to be prepared by chefs on-site in a brand new kitchen facility.

The 950 square metre development is?approximately double the size of the current restaurant.

The garden centre team hopes to create more than 10 new jobs across the whole business, which already employs around 90 staff.

Mike, who took over as Managing Director two years ago is the son-in-law of the founders David and Luella Bellman. The Bellmans, who are now retired, and their three children still play an active part in the garden centre?s development.

Mike added: ?David and Luella first started offering visitors refreshments in 1989. Their aim was to have a real emphasis on fresh, locally produced food cooked daily on-site and the same will apply with our new restaurant once launched.

?There is much to look forward to but as we embark on our new restaurant development, we do anticipate some disruption and we apologise for this. However, we are creating a vibrant new space for our customers to enjoy when they visit in the future and it?s something we think the short-term upheaval will more than make up for.

?In the meantime, our current restaurant space will still be operational, albeit with a reduced number of tables, for teas, coffees, cakes, snacks, breakfasts and lunches, and our wonderful Pondside Caf? will also be open too for everything apart from breakfasts and the larger lunches.?

Monkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre is located just off the A38 at Monkton Heathfield between Bridgwater and Taunton. For more information, please call 01823 412381 or visit

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