THE owners of award-winning The Water Mill Tearooms are living proof that it is possible to have your cake and eat it.
Just under two years since taking over the tearoom with a working water mill overlooking the River Nene at Ringstead, Iona Campbell and Ben Straw have opened the doors at The Grain Store Coffeehouse in nearby Woodford.
Customers can expect the same delicious formula that helped win The Water Mill Tearooms the Best Independent Cafe/Tea Room of the Year in last year's Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards.
"It was too good an opportunity to miss," said Iona, who has an enviable reputation for her cakes, all baked on site. "We love the tearoom and it has given us the opportunity to meet so many different people from all walks of life. Our business has certainly grown significantly since we won the award."
Afternoon tea is a specialty at The Water Mill Tearooms where bookings of at least 24 hours in advance are required but otherwise customers can simply drop in for breakfast served from 9am to 11.30am, lunch from noon to 2.30pm, or a scrummy slice of cake and freshly brewed tea as an afternoon treat.
The tearoom's reputation prompted a phone call when another tearoom Tiggywinkles in Woodford needed a fresh lease of life, and has now opened for business with a new look under the name The Grain Store Coffeehouse run by Ben, Iona and their team.
The coffee house, which is nestled in the beautiful Manor House Farm Estate, serves home-made food all day including breakfasts, light lunches and delicious home-made cakes.
Iona said: "We are delighted to be able to offer something unique and delicious in the local area and are still in awe of how many people frequent us. Everything is made fresh to order on site by the brilliant teams at both venues and while this means you may need to wait a touch longer for food, it gives you time to take in the beautiful surroundings."
The freshly-baked cakes are at the heart of the business, with Iona and Ben putting their plans to run a cake caravan at festivals on hold when they took the decision to take on the tearoom in Ringstead. The original water mill is still used to generate electricity in the tearoom, which boasts a comfy lounge area, stylish dining room and a garden, which is the perfect place to relax on a summer day. The mill also hosts a beautiful holiday cottage, available to rent above the tearoom, sleeping up to six adults; the gorgeous apartment has floor to ceiling windows with a view across the river and inside you can see plenty of the original workings of the mill, hence the name Millstone Cottage.
"The Water Mill is quite literally the tearoom of my dreams and Ben and I feel so lucky to be able to call it ours. We have a wonderful team who work incredibly hard to give the best service possible at both venues and as cheesy as it sounds, we feel like one big family," said Iona. Her ever growing team now includes an apprentice baker, Holly, who will be ensuring they can meet up with customer demand.
The quality of the products plays a key part in the venture's ongoing success. The meat comes from an award-winning butcher, eggs are all free range from a nearby farm and dairy comes from a local supplier. All ciders and ales are sourced within the county from brilliant suppliers and Iona and Ben continue to look to build relationships with other local producers.
Iona said: "We love our tearoom at Ringstead, and we are now looking forward to welcoming customers to the coffeehouse at Woodford."
The Water Mill Tearooms, Ringstead, NN14 4DU. Telephone 01933 770630. Website: www.watermilltearooms.co.uk Opening hours are 9am to 4pm Sunday and Monday and 9am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday.
The Grain Store Coffeehouse, Unit 10B, Manor House Farm, Addington Road, Woodford, NN14 4ES. Telephone 01832 735819. Opening hours are 9:30am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday
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