Running Fox set to open new café in Shilbottle

Award-winning café The Running Fox is expanding into its third north Northumberland site, creating five full-time jobs.

Kris and Becky outside the new site in Shilbottle.
Kris and Becky outside the new site in Shilbottle.

Business owner Kris Blackburn is due to open a dog-friendly premises in the former function room at the Farriers Arms pub in Shilbottle in early April, adding to the existing sites in Felton and Longframlington.

She also plans to move the bakery from Longframlington into one of two kitchen areas at Shilbottle, the other serving the coffee shop.

It will have a 50-seater café and a retail area stocking local produce, with further part-time jobs created during peak seasons, as part of the company's aim of helping to develop local villages and rural communities in the Northumberland. The Farriers pub will continue to run alongside the new café.

Kris said: “In 2011, I established The Running Fox in Felton with the objective of providing the local community with locally sourced artisan produce.

"The reaction was better than we could ever have hoped, not only with the local community but we saw a huge proportion of customers travelling from outside the area. We expanded two years ago into Longframlington in order to keep up with demand, however, both branches are now running at capacity and we are unfortunately turning away customers.

"They are bursting at the seams and it is heartbreaking as a business owner having to turn people away.

"Opening a new, and bigger site, is very exciting for us as it gives us the opportunity to further innovate the business while economically and culturally benefiting the village and surrounding area. It is giving us a wonderful thing we've not had before - space.”

The café will have a rustic look, very much in keeping with the pub and Kris is also planning a new range of products - with some pies with local-produce filling and scones on the menu - a project that has been on the back-burner for quite a while. She is also looking to introduce takeaway pie and peas.

The expansion has been supported with a grant from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) - a programme established to fund projects that create jobs and grow the rural economy - and was secured with the help of land, property and business consultants George F White.

The team acquired £45,000 in late 2018, meaning that The Running Fox could move forward with the structural and design work required to achieve completion by this spring.

Senior rural business consultant at George F White, David Hume, said: “We were absolutely thrilled to have helped Kris achieve £45k of grant support. It’s great to be able to support a local entrepreneur with exciting ideas for expansion, supporting other local businesses and growth of the economy in Northumberland.

"I truly believe that The Running Fox has breathed a new life into Felton and Longframlington, providing a community hub as well as improving tourist infrastructure. Their success is a great example of how rural development starts at home with the individuals and the community.”

If you are looking to launch, expand or diversify your rural business and need advice on any possible funding opportunities, contact David Hume on 07739 321588 or email [email protected].