Our startups are an imaginative bunch and are always proud to put a unique spin on an idea. This is exemplified by Nightingale's Eatery, a 1940s-themed cafe that specialised in pie and mash, but offers a modern delivery and takeaway service for convenience. As well as this, their business does social good by dedicating a portion of the profits to children's charities. We caught up with founder Janette Hynes MBE to find out more.

1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less.

We are a unique 1940s themed café specializing in traditional pie and mash. We also have a breakfast pie topped with a fried egg for breakfast with a difference. Nightingales Eatery also provides support to vulnerable young people in the local community by providing jobs and apprenticeships to gain practical work and social interaction in a genuine work environment.

2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?

We are located in the market town of Pickering, North Yorkshire. Pickering is an attractive and historic market town on the edge of the North York Moors National Park so attracts a large number of visitors, plus locals. The town is famous for traditional farmer’s markets, traditional local shops selling top quality goods, and legendary antique shops - so our 1940s eatery fits in perfectly.

3. How did you come up with the idea?

I was looking for additional sources of income to support my charitable activities, offering young people from disadvantaged and troubled backgrounds a therapeutic experience to help grow their skills and positive attitude. A new eatery with a difference in the thriving market town of Pickering became an attractive proposition. However, it was not just a simple case of taking over an existing café. The premises chosen needed to be completely altered for its new purpose. As a professional sportsperson, and qualified occupational therapist and sports coach, I'm highly skilled ‐ but when it came to starting and running a small business enterprise I needed help and encouragement in most areas, and really benefitted from the support and advice offered by Yorkshire Coast Enterprise (YCE).

Nightingale's Eatery - Virgin StartUp of the Week
Nightingale's Eatery - Virgin StartUp of the Week

4. What’s the business model?

The eatery is a place for customers to relax and enjoy a bite to eat from an affordably-priced menu, along with a selection of hot and cold beverages. Aside from wanting to start a small business, I wanted to create profits to bedirected into a charity I have been running since 2005, whilst also providing job opportunities for young people with disabilities to help them develop skills and confidence.

5. Who are your competitors?

Pickering Market Town has many places to eat, but none with the 1940's-themed atmosphere unique to ours. We are close to the high street and all popular tourist attractions, caravan sites and holiday homes. Our takeaway and delivery service and late opening times are unique to Pickering.

6. What’s unique about your business?

Nightingale' Eatery is fresh and simple, decorated with antiques to go with the 1940s theme. We regularly change all the antiques and music to celebrate other decades too. We offer a home-from-home experience, a place to come and feel welcomed and to enjoy the comforts of pie and mash.

7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?

We had just opened and were starting to face some unexpected challenges. To be honest, I was feeling a bit like a fish out of water. I received help to develop a robust business plan, which led to me successfully gaining a £25,000 startup loan from Virgin.

8. How have you used it to grow your business?

I was thrilled to receive the support from Virgin, which has provided me the funds to pay staff wages for the first year - I had already invested the majority of my allocated startup funds into getting the premises ready.

9. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?

Peter Mitchell at Yorkshire Coast Enterprise worked with me on a business plan, helping me develop a viable idea whilst also giving me a clear grip on costs and indication of profitability. I attended some marketing seminars and meet with Peter regularly to ensure I stayed on track.   

10. Biggest achievement so far?

I'm just proud to be where I am today, working towards creating a future I control.

11. What’s next for your business?

I am currently developing the delivery side of the business, taking our meals to our customers in their places of work. At the beginning of the month we held our first 60s weekend with memorabilia and 1960s music. We took samples around the town to involve the public, and we had a fantastic weekend - we can’t wait to do more events like this.


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