Posted: 9th November 2016
Read the full story about Lily’s Secret Vintage Tearooms in The Sentinel
A PASSION for baking and serving up delicious hot food has led to a thriving business venture for Sarah Lewis.
The 27-year-old set up Lily’s Secret Vintage Tearoom, at Swan Pit Nursery in Gnosall, near Stafford, following a visit to the garden centre in 2014.
Now the trained chef runs two businesses with ambitions to expand even further.
Over the past two years Sarah’s business has developed from a tearoom serving up home-made cakes, afternoon tea and snacks to an influx of regular customers into a flourishing company which offers full catering services at private events and celebrations. Sarah, who lives in Newport, in Shropshire, said: “I trained as a chef at Stafford College and then went to Harper Adams University to study a degree in agricultural marketing.
“I quit my job and got to work on opening the tea rooms – and I’ve never looked back.”
For the first six months Sarah was running the business on her own, but now she employs a handful of staff to help her at the tea rooms and for outside catering, as well as for a number of community events she hosts. Sarah said: “I’ve done the catering for RAF Cosford and for events at Sandon Hall and I have a lot of enquiries for weddings and other celebrations.
“We can do anything from buffet-style sandwiches and cakes to hot food, hog roasts, curries and chillies.
“The catering business has really expanded, more than I ever would have imagined.”
Lily’s Secret Vintage Tea Room has also attracted support from former Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis after one of Sarah’s tweets was picked up by him as part of his Small Business Sunday initiative.
Sarah said: “Each Sunday, Theo sets the business community a challenge to tweet him with a description of their business using the hashtag #SBS.
“He chooses six winners every week to re-tweet and they are invited to become a member of the #SBS community.
“There is a website, an online shop and the chance to exchange information and network with past winners. I was out for Sunday lunch with my parents when he re-tweeted me and I was so excited. I couldn’t believe I’d been chosen.”
Over the next few years Sarah hopes to further raise the profile of her business. And as part of her efforts she is entering The Sentinel Business Awards in the Small Business of the Year Category, sponsored by Beswicks Legal and in the Young Business Person of the Year Category, sponsored by KMF Group.
She added: “My dream is to open an industrial unit for the catering business to allow it to grow even more and hopefully set up a couple more tea rooms around Staffordshire, Cheshire and Shropshire. It would be a dream for me to be able to stage a festival too, but that is something that will take a lot of planning.”
For more information about Lily’s Secret Vintage Tea Room visit www.lilyssecretvintagetearoom.co.uk.