Mobile pod puts Northumberland catering company on the road to recovery

A catering company has been forced to find a new way of surviving the covid pandemic.

The Real Taste of Northumberland saw its income streams dry up almost instantly when coronavirus struck in March.

"All of a sudden we had no work whatsoever,” explained managing director Adele Johnson

"We were fully booked every weekend for weddings and other large events alongside fine dining in holiday cottages and we lost all of that.

The Percy burger.

"On top of that we lost our regular business customers because they were working from home.

"It’s probably cost us around £65,000 in lost business.”

However, the business has begun to turn the corner with the help of a new catering pod.

"We bought it with a bounce back loan and it’s been great,” said Adele.

Adele Johnson in the catering pod which has helped The Real Taste of Northumberland drive up business.

"It’s only bringing in a fraction of what we had before but we’re getting there as more people find out about it.

“Doing takeaways was the only way we could keep trading and we’re very pleased to have been given a five star food hygiene rating.”

The emphasis on quality local produce remains, as it has since the family firm was established at Hawkhill Business Park, between Alnwick and Lesbury, in 2016.

“We’re not just a burger van,” said Adele, a chef with 30 years’ experience.

The Real Taste of Northumberland at Alnwick market.

She works alongside baker husband, Ken, and daughter, Abbie, to provide restaurant quality food on the go.

Suppliers include Turnbull’s of Alnwick, Grants Butchers in Prudhoe, Farm to Freeze, Pumphreys Coffee – and neighbouring Alnwick Brewery with which it has collaborated on a Percy burger using its Percy Warmer.

It has now established a regular rota and can be found at Alnwick Medical Group on Mondays, Acklington Mart on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Hawkhill Business Park on Wednesdays and Fridays.

They were also boosted to be named hospitality specialists of the year bin Corporate Livewire’s North England Prestige Awards.

The Real Taste of Northumberland.

"Obviously we still have concerns about the future but we’ve been getting advice from a business coach at Business Northumberland which has been very helpful,” said Adele.

"We now feel that we know where we’re heading and can see light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been a difficult time for many businesses and a few have gone under but we’re fighting back.”

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