1.Tell us what your business does:
The Curing House is a unique charcuterie bar and restaurant offering a casual, city feel, dining experience.
You can expect to find sharing plates of specialist Iberico and air dried hams, sausages and chorizo alongside artisan cheeses sourced from European producers steeped in history. Bringing the old craft of charcuterie to a new market, we also offer a modern dining menu based around techniques such as brining, smoking and curing.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
We are based in an old Victorian terraced house in the newly renovated food and drink quarter on Bedford Street, Middlesbrough in the North East. We like to think we are small but perfectly formed!
Bedford Street is home to a number of unique, independent businesses that all complement each other.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
After an accident at work, I was unable to continue my career in engineering. Whilst recovering my interest in cooking and food led me to charcuterie and I began to experiment with making chorizos, bacon and sausages and it soon became normal practice to have a sour dough starter in the airing cupboard. What began as an idea for a mobile food business soon grew into a full restaurant and the curing house was born.
4. What's the business model?
Our primary customers are the guests we welcome on a daily basis, we hope to grow and start working closely with the business market on events such as supper clubs and canapés.
5. Who are your competitors?
Our main competitors are a number of established restaurants in the area. However, our style of food is not available in the area and the charcuterie bar is new to the North East. We have a number of specialist suppliers from London who sounded surprised when we told them our plans! We have come at this from a customers perspective as we are not from the industry, this has given us a different product to our competitors.
5. What's unique about your business?
The charcuterie plates we offer are all from specialist suppliers from Italy, Spain, France and Britain. Families have been making these products for generations, for example a finocchiona sausage we have on our Italian plate contains fennel pollen that is hand-picked by the producers mother. All dishes on our brunch and dinner menus are made from scratch in the restaurant by our Head Chef Joe Taylor and his team. We bake bread daily, make our own bacon, sausages, corned beef brisket, pickles, cured meat and fish and even Kev's Ketchup. We all love food and believe you can taste the love and effort that goes into our dishes.
6. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
We had a business plan, a location and we're almost ready to go when we met our mentor Mark Johnston. He supported us throughout the loan process and acted as a critical friend on our business plan.
7. How have you used it to grow your business?
We used the Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp to set up the restaurant and make sure the kitchen had all the necessary equipment to deliver the wide range of products from scratch. It also helped us buy some unique furniture to help develop our brand for the curing house.
8. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?
Mark Johnston from TEDCO is our business mentor and he has been such a support from the start. He was excited about our business plan and has offered encouragement and advice when needed.
10. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
TEDCO supported us in completing the Virgin Start Up loan application and guided us to strengthen our proposal.
11. Biggest achievement so far?
Becoming Middlesbrough restaurant number 5 on Trip Advisor in 8 weeks of opening and already having a number of regular customers who love our food as much as we do! Not to mention starting this business at the same time as welcoming our beautiful daughter Anna into the world, she is learning the business early!
12. What's next for your business?
Increase our guests, keep them coming back and come up with new and exciting dishes all the time. We have lots of exciting plans for the future, onwards and upwards!