A Message from Laura
So the end of 2015 leading into 2016 saw quite a shift in management responsibilities and roles at Albion Farm.
I took on more ‘out of sight’ back office duties, including the new branding (I hope you all love our new designs), event planning and getting out and about to source lots of delicious new products. My mum, rightly so, wanted to step back and pick her hobbies back up, including lots of walking in the Yorkshire Dales.
When our Supervisor, Susan, decided it was time for her to semi retire and go part time, we thought it was the right time to look for a Shop Manager. In came Hannah and I knew straight away that she meant business and shared my views in terms of the direction I wanted the shop to go in. Efficient, extremely organised and customer service was a number one priority. It quickly became apparent that we would need a Deputy Manager to work with her, so next to join us was Holly, who matched our enthusiasm for expanding on the service we wanted to offer. I really couldn’t believe how lucky I was to find such a perfect pairing. Our part time staff, Martha and Susan are in their element and there is a superb vibe amongst staff, which has been passed over to our customers. When we had our Christmas festival, I was overwhelmed with the amount of comments I personally received from long term customers about the noticeable improvements, offerings and friendliness of staff over the past year. I was definitely very proud.
They have mastered keeping me quiet from day one, by realising that if I ask for something or suggest an idea, they make sure it is carried out almost straight away and then they usually expand on it. A perfect working partnership!
An example is our new sandwich counter. I suggested that this is something I have wanted to do for a while now. The very next morning when I came in, I was presented with a fridge full of sandwich fillings, roasting joints, chutneys and accompaniments as well as freshly baked ciabattas. This expanded to a soup and a sandwich deal and the counter is now a firm lunch time favourite for locals and people driving by.
We also took on Cafe Manager, Katy Blackshaw, who again has been extremely easy to work with when it comes to discussing and introducing new ideas and improvements. As many of you may know, weekends can be extremely busy at Albion Farm, often resulting in queues out of the cafe. I was keen to have a queuing system where the customers were acknowledged and welcomed, whilst the tables were efficiently cleaned and turned over to the next occupant. Katy has excelled in her team management and I am constantly seeing improvements and new ideas. She has expanded on my original ‘chocoholic’ creations, made full use of the blackboards behind the counters and works well with our new Head Chef, Mark.
So on that note, on to the Kitchen. We welcomed the appointment of Head Chef, Mark Pemberton to our team. Mark is well known for his passion for locally sourced food and his delicious (they really are!) creations. When it comes to having a real passion for ingredients and sourcing, he is in most certainly gets the 'Albion' way.
Chefs Matt, Karl and Richard have all welcomed him into the kitchen and are really enjoying the new dishes and specials which have been introduced to our menu.
We also have another new addition to the team in Pastry Chef, Natalie Pemberton, who as you can see by the name, is Mark's wife and what a team they make. Natalie has been making fabulous desserts for the cafe and our afternoon teas and she is planning to introduce more into the shop, so I’ll definitely be watching this space! I often see the front of house staff flurrying around her looking in awe at the delights she is creating.
There is so much more I could write, including mentions of our new food packing machine which means we’ll be able to expand on our own homemade meals to take home, our ever growing gin section, our fruit and veg section which is now outside but still a work in progress, all the many events we have planned, our new balcony which saw the outside seating become a huge hit in Summer with such fantastic views over the valley, and the list goes on.
My plans for this year? To keep everything fresh, interesting and on the up. I am aware we still have improvements to make, but with a farm which has been in the family for so long and at a time where nothing is ever certain, we have always believed in earning our money before we spend it and avoiding the mistake which many businesses have fatally made. We hope to provide you with even more locally sourced, delicious produce and we will keep striving to improve.
Lastly, I want to say a huge thank you to all our customers who have supported us along the way, we hope you enjoy coming to Albion Farm as much as we love having you.