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Best coffee in a rural location

Sam Bertram

5 October 2017

Sticks & Stones is a lovely relaxed rural café & lifestyle shop in Woodborough near Pewsey. Co-owner Garp Flack has always made the most beautiful wooden kitchenware so we spoke to his wife, co-owner Liis Flack, to find out what inspired them to open a café.

What inspired you to transition from a shop selling Garp’s beautiful wares to opening a café?

‘Back in the day we had a studio and stock room at the back of Wiltshire Barn in Nursery Farm, Woodborough, which we used as a base to wholesale Garp’s kitchen accessories. We briefly had a shop in Marlborough, but when we got offered new premises at Nursery Farm, with a front on to the car park, we knew we wanted to focus on that space.  

As with all rural businesses attracting customers is your number one priority. The new shop had a kitchen, if a little hidden, so we focused on uncovering everything, doing some refurbishments and opening up the space.

It seemed a logical step to open a café alongside the shop. My mother is a chef in Estonia and Garp worked in the restaurant trade before leaving London. Although we said we’d never work in catering again, we kept coming back to it.  It’s obviously part of our DNA and we’re loving being involved in hospitality again.

You’ve got a real loyal customer base, how have you achieved that?

We started with the tiniest coffee machine and cakes from a local baker and we’ve gradually expanded our menu. We’ve got a great reputation for serving delicious coffee. Garp is pedantic about the quality of our coffee and regularly asks our staff to make him a coffee to ensure we’re keeping up the good standard.

We’ve tried to make the café a little more interesting by buying local when we can but if not looking to the country of our births, Estonia and South Africa. We stock my aunt’s Estonian herbal teas and lovely leather handbags from Cape Town. We also have fabulous loyal staff.

We incorporate food trends, the fact that people want to be healthy and serve what’s in season as much as possible. We serve a variety and our portion sizes are good while not being wasteful. One regular customer has a number of allergies, and we bend over backwards to make something he can eat. There is some Estonian influence – we love to cook chanterelles and wild mushrooms in season and serve smoked fish which we get from a local business. Some of our favourites are French Onion soup with croutons and gruyere and bagel with cream cheese and local salmon and avocado. 

Many of our local customers work from home and come in to get out or meet clients. We have stay at home parents and we bribe dogs with treats so they drag their owners here! One local artist visits a few times a week, and just sits outside and relaxes. On a sunny day you could be anywhere in Europe.

Come and see us – there are lots of other businesses to browse at Nursery Farm while you’re here. 

http://www.uksticksandstones.com/   

 

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