2017 – Positively Pandemonium

2017 for Cobbles will go down in history as the year of positive pandemonium…

February saw the birth of our third child Teilo aka ‘Cobbles baby’ affectionately know as the latter by the staff (babysitters) and many of the customers as he lay cwtched up in his pram in the Deli or strapped to me like a baby kangaroo whilst I carried on with the day to day running of the Kitchen and Deli.. You don’t really get maternity leave when you run a business, especially one that’s in the midst of a massive renovation project – but no harm done there, Teilo is the most sociable, happy little thing ever.. even if he has got a little bit of a Deli belly 😆

We submitted a planning and listed building application the previous year in late Spring of 2016 that took almost 52 weeks to be awarded permission.. We hit many hurdles and stallers along the way – bats, building control, electrical failures, financing.. but overcoming each of them with a positive attitude and not letting things dampen our spirits – we eventually got there.

One of the main stallers, which I’m not afraid to share, was financing the project. Still in the very early days of business, Cobbles wasn’t anywhere near making the margins to finance a huge project like this, and although we had grown into a very popular place, from starting in the small barn (the cwtch) as a small 24 seater cafe, we had very quickly gained momentum and more and more customers came.. not wanting to turn people away, we took over the rest of the Buildings and put tables and chairs in so we could seat more people. The large barn was cold and in desperate need of renovation so I either had to stop the growth there or continue and just go with it… so go with it, is exactly what I did!

Fortunately I have a very supportive and encouraging landlord who believed in the plans and agreed to support the project by financing the major renovations to the fabric of the building, including a new roof, central heating, full re-wiring, indoor toilets.. this list goes on.. My part was to finance the business expansion..

We were in desperate need of a new kitchen, the one we were using was all domestic in a tiny space and was beginning to struggle under the pressure. We also needed a bar, furniture and all new appliances. Off I went in search of some help..

Business Wales and Finance Wales have been an absolute fount of knowledge and incredible support for me and the business. Offering endless hours of free time and advice on every subject you can think of from accounting and HR, to building a sustainable business.. They were also able to offer financial support by way of a business loan to help towards the cost of the expansion.

I had been awarded grant funding from the Vale Council – Creative Rural Communities department to help with the initial start up project and was researching further schemes that may be able to help, when I stumbled across the Welsh Government TISS (Tourism investment support scheme) The scheme was looking to support businesses that could bring tourists to the area whilst creating jobs – The offer was for 40% of the total capital costs or a set amount per new employee.. I submitted the very lengthy application – akin to a dissertation, that took me around two months to complete and awaited the decision..

Late September came the email I had been waiting for – Congratulations – you have been successful.. The best news ever! Here we go!

Work began and for the last three months of the year, Cobbles turned into a building site.. there were diggers in the courtyard, electricians, plumbers, painters and plasterers everywhere! We stayed open throughout and thankfully we have the most amazing customers who understood and still came despite the sometimes deafening noises of the drill (free paracetamol with your tea)?

I was desperate to complete the project by the end of the year, Firstly as it would the perfect end to a long year of work and mess, and secondly I was getting married on New Years Eve – In Cobbles!!

The wedding was incredible.. I’m not just saying it because it was mine, but it truly was the one and only place we would have got married. James has worked so hard to make Cobbles beautiful and worked tirelessly in all weathers and all hours getting the work done and it looks incredible. We had the best day with our nearest and dearest and the barns looked glorious, twinkling in the fairy lights and candle lit glow.. Needless to say 2017 went out on a high!

This wedding, was also a bit of a pilot project (not to take the romance away) but we have been toying with the idea of weddings at Cobbles for some time and this was a bit of a test run.. a successful one..

2018 is going to be the best year yet.. already starting on a high with our busiest day on record on the second weekend of January.. We’ve been holding themed quizzes, Supporting Veganuary, live music events and seeing lots of old and new faces stop buy..

Please keep with us, keep your eyes peeled to our social media for some big announcements about our Wedding packages and rest assured that we will continue to be the best place we can be for your local Welsh cuisine, a jam packed event calendar and a warm and friendly welcome every time..

Thanks for reading – See you soon… x

(All photograph credits to Abigail Apollonio Photography)