Popular North Tyneside Cafe Gets New Lease of Life at Cobalt Business Park

A North Tyneside eatery has made a return to the Borough following the efforts of an entrepreneurial husband and wife team determined to bring the popular Spud and Lettuce back to Cobalt Business Park. 

L-r Rhys Wilkinson, Chris and Tracy Wilkinson and Tracy Clarkson from TEDCO Business Support.

Chris and Tracey Wilkinson have re-opened the doors to Spud and Lettuce for customers craving their favourite healthy fast food options. The café will now benefit from the extensive catering experience of the new owners to deliver an exciting menu of customer favourites and new and improved options.

The entrepreneurial duo were helped by The North Tyneside Council Business Factory which is delivered by TEDCO Business Support to get their new venture off the ground. The pair received mentoring, access to legal advice and one-to-one guidance as part of an array of business support options designed to provide new business owners like Chris and Tracey with the help they need to make a success of their new enterprise.

Chris Wilkinson, co-owner of Spud and Lettuce comments:

“Cobalt Business Park is a busy area with lots of footfall from the surrounding offices and so when Tracey and I decided to combine our years of catering and hospitality experience and run our own business, we were very attracted to the great location and customer base of Spud and Lettuce.

“We took over the lease and decided to retain the existing name as it was already well established in the area but have made a number of improvements to the premises and business model to improve service and quality. The food quality had to match our own high expectations and that of our customers and we have a number of great new menu items including Pasta King and weekly specials which range from Lamb Gyros served in a wrap of choice to Thai marinated chicken served with a chai seed wrap and coriander & peanut salad. Everything is made fresh onsite and we have retained some classics such as “Power Salad” consisting of quinoa, spinach, avocado, baby tomatoes & radish with a balsamic & olive oil dressing.”

Chris brings to Spud and Lettuce his international catering experience after spending a number of years working in the likes of Iraq, Afghanistan and East Africa offering food preparation services to the oil and gas industry. Tracey’s skills lie a little closer to home after starting her career in her parents pub at the age of 15 before moving on to manage private catering contracts for a number of local firms.

Tracey comments:

“We’re both excited at the prospect of running our own business and couldn’t thank the Business Factory enough for the help and support they have offered to us. Setting up a new business is never easy or straightforward and their guidance at every difficult juncture we faced was absolutely essential to ensure that our dream of running our first food outlet could go ahead with the greatest chance of success.”

The Business Factory is the recipient of up to £1,800,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide a broad package of business support services to help develop new enterprises and support the growth of existing businesses within North Tyneside.

Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, said:

“I’m sure many people can relate to the challenges Chris and Tracey have faced in starting up their new venture but the helpful and knowledgeable staff at The Business Factory are there to offer their expert advice and support.”

“I am also delighted that scheme has been awarded ERDF funding, which will only improve further what is already a first-rate service provided by The Business Factory.”

Spud and Lettuce was also supported by the Start and Grow programme as a follow-on from The Business Factory, which is delivered by TEDCO Business Support in the North East and supported by the Regional Growth Fund (RGF). The programme is delivered throughout England by Cavendish Enterprise in areas where there are lower levels of business start-up to help new enterprises get up and running and develop new employment opportunities in the private sector with a range of services, including one-to-one mentoring, business planning and helping new ventures get investment ready.

Tracy Clarkson, TEDCO Business Advisor comments:

“This was a particularly challenging process for both Chris and Tracey as they incredibly worked hard to get Spud and Lettuce up and running in the right way and in the best possible time frame. The trials facing anyone entering into self-employment can always be daunting but Spud and Lettuce is a business that has the right premises, in a great location, which offered Chris and Tracey the opportunity to run the kind of food outlet they have always wanted. They utilised a number of services from TEDCO and the Business Factory to ensure everything was ready to proceed and with that in mind, have already got off to a flying start. I wish them the very best of luck and hope to continue to work with them as the business continues to thrive.”