An innovative hospitality business, which turned to North Somerset Enterprise Agency (NSEA) for start-up business support a year ago, is preparing for a busy second year of trading, having recently won a tender with North Somerset Council to cater for visitors at the Uphill end of Weston-super-Mare beach.
Top Deck Tatties, which prides itself on providing good honest food with open top bus dining on a lovingly-restored 1980’s double-decker plus take-away catering, at events and festivals, will be seen regularly at the beach from this month, alongside planned appearances at a host of other local events and festivals across North Somerset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Herefordshire.
Since launching in May 2015, Top Deck Tatties has enjoyed enormous popularity, providing visitors to days out and attractions with the opportunity to view their surroundings from the top deck of a bus, whilst enjoying a varied menu of homemade food – from homemade vegan chilli to artisan frankfurter hot dogs and Belgian waffles – made principally using locally-produced wholesome ingredients. It’s wide range is suitable for customers who are vegetarian, vegan, meat-lovers, lactose intolerant or celiac.
The business is the brainchild of Olivia Barnes from Sandford, whom has put a little from each of her hospitality jobs since leaving university in 1998 – including crewing luxury yachts, wedding planning, managing pubs and more – into Top Deck Tatties.
Whilst Olly manages everything from manning the kitchen, looking after employees, ordering and tendering for events and recipe creation, her partner Jon looks after the star of the business – “Nora”, the company’s beloved 33 year-old Leyland Titan vintage London bus.
A former hospitality vehicle for a red-top newspaper, Nora was discovered on a Wiltshire Farm and extensively restored for work in the summer of 2014. Nora now brings a unique catering and bar option to events and the Top Deck Tatties team is targeting more tender wins in 2016, including potential expansion into Devon-based events.
“Starting a business has been a huge learning curve but we love what we do. We get to travel and enjoy the festivals, as well as managing and inspiring a terrific bunch of people and going the extra mile for our customers, which includes very early trips to suppliers to get the best offers locally but well worthwhile as customers tell us they can taste the difference in food quality.” explains Olly.
“We aim to make a positive difference offering excellent food and a superb eating location whilst being committed to low environmental impact. We use only compostable materials, our materials are made from recycled sugar cane – including very strong cutlery – and we aim to run Nora exclusively on bio diesel created from her own fryers!
“In our first year, we managed to get some major events under our belt and found ourselves among the ‘big boys’, but held our own with a superb level of custom and some tremendous feedback. This year we have already secured Uphill beach, which was one of our top “most wanted” contracts and will continue to raise our profile, build our reputation and hopefully win a spot at some of the other exciting events happening in the region. On board, our new ice cream machine will hopefully also keep us busy!”.
Olivia says that NSEA provided the reassurance and confidence that she needed to take the business forward.
“NSEA has an amazing range of knowledge and connections so are able to advise on almost every type of business – and their business planning process keeps you grounded and focused. My meetings with my business advisor made me believe in myself and my business. Planning and financial forecasting was essential to ensuring we didn’t overlook any areas and that what we were trying to do was viable.” she says.
“I feel NSEA has kept us on the road to making our business the best it can be. They still keep in touch regarding useful seminars and events and I will be sharpening my book-keeping knowledge through them in the near future.”