North Tyneside cafe gets a new lease of life

Rhys Wilkinson, Chris and Tracy Wilkinson and Tracy Clarkson from TEDCO Business Support. Picture by Ian McClelland.
Rhys Wilkinson, Chris and Tracy Wilkinson and Tracy Clarkson from TEDCO Business Support. Picture by Ian McClelland.

An eatery has re-opened its doors under new management.

Chris and Tracey Wilkinson have re-opened the doors to Spud and Lettuce on Cobalt Business Park.

The café, featuring healthy fast food options, will now benefit from the extensive catering experience of the new owners to deliver a menu of customer favourites and new and improved options.

The entrepreneurial duo were helped by The North Tyneside Council Business Factory, delivered by TEDCO Business Support, to get their new venture off the ground.

Chris said: “Cobalt Business Park is a busy area with lots of footfall from the surrounding offices and so when Tracey and I decided to combine our years of catering and hospitality experience and run our own business, we were very attracted to the great location and customer base of Spud and Lettuce.

“We took over the lease and decided to retain the existing name as it was already well established in the area but have made a number of improvements to the premises and business model.

“The food quality had to match our own high expectations and that of our customers and we have a number of great new menu items including pasta king and weekly specials which range from lamb gyros served in a wrap of choice to Thai marinated chicken. Everything is made fresh onsite and we have retained some classics such as power salad consisting of quinoa, spinach, avocado, baby tomatoes and radish with a balsamic and olive oil dressing.”

Chris brings to Spud and Lettuce his international catering experience after spending a number of years working in the likes of Iraq, Afghanistan and East Africa offering food preparation services to the oil and gas industry.

Tracey’s skills lie a little closer to home after starting her career in her parents pub at the age of 15 before moving on to manage private catering contracts for a number of local firms.

Tracey said: “We’re both excited at the prospect of running our own business and couldn’t thank the Business Factory enough for the help and support they have offered to us.

“Setting up a new business is never easy or straightforward and their guidance at every difficult juncture we faced was absolutely essential to ensure that our dream of running our first food outlet could go ahead with the greatest chance of success.”

The Business Factory is the recipient of up to £1,800,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide a broad package of business support services to help develop new enterprises and support the growth of existing businesses within North Tyneside.

Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “I’m sure many people can relate to the challenges Chris and Tracey have faced in starting up their new venture but the helpful and knowledgeable staff at The Business Factory are there to offer their expert advice and support.

“I am also delighted that scheme has been awarded ERDF funding, which will only improve further what is already a first-rate service provided by The Business Factory.”

Tracy Clarkson, TEDCO Business Advisor, said: “This was a particularly challenging process for both Chris and Tracey as they worked incredibly hard to get Spud and Lettuce up and running in the right way and in the best possible time frame.

“The trials facing anyone entering into self-employment can always be daunting but Spud and Lettuce is a business that has the right premises, in a great location, which offered Chris and Tracey the opportunity to run the kind of food outlet they have always wanted.

“They utilised a number of services from TEDCO and the Business Factory to ensure everything was ready to proceed and with that in mind, have already got off to a flying start.”