Cafe launches with loan funding

The Acorn café, deli and wine bar in Yeovil in Somerset, has opened its doors with the help of the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme.

Chloe Widdows and Jim Thomson, both former teachers, have always enjoyed sampling Somerset’s bounty of local produce, including cheeses and cider.

They had often talked about the idea of opening their own deli to showcase the very best food and drink on offer in the area, all under one roof.

“After going back to school after the covid pandemic, we just had this feeling that we really wanted to do this now,” said Chloe. “We felt that there was a way we could celebrate all of this wonderful produce that we have right here on our doorstep.”

They each applied for a £15,000 Start Up Loan to help them put down a deposit for a premises before getting to work on kitting out the building in Church Street.

The pair put in long hours over a short space of time to make sure everything was ready for when the first customers arrived through the doors in September.

“I don’t even want to think about how many hours we’ve spent in here, getting it all ready before we opened,” says Chloe. “It’s looking great. It’s rustic and our branding is simple – it’s got that kind of homely feel. That’s what we’re about. We’re about providing an experience. You don’t just come in and get your corporate coffee and leave. It’s about understanding the produce and its provenance.”

Chloe added that the expert help they have received as part of the Start Up Loan programme has been as valuable as the funds.

“If we’d got the money right off the bat, we wouldn’t have thought about half the things we needed to think about,” said Chloe, talking about putting together the business plan and going through the pitfalls with their adviser.

“His expertise was really crucial in not only getting us the money but also making sure we were ready to receive it and knew what to do with it.”


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