THE loyalty of long-standing customers has helped many local businesses through the Coronavirus pandemic.
Among them is Afonwen Craft Centre and its popular Edenshine Restaurant, based near Caerwys, Flintshire.
Owners Janet Monshin Dallolio and Adrian Dallolio were forced to shut down the attraction in March for the first time in more than 28 years of business, when the UK went into lockdown for the first time.
It was a challenging period, but the couple – both accomplished chef/bakers – expanded their takeout service and made home deliveries of delicious chilled and frozen items prepared fresh onsite using local produce.
“We created a wide range of meals from quiches to steak and ale pies, cottage pies and more,” said Janet.
“They were well-received, and demand was high, especially among the older customers who would visit us regularly but were forced to self-isolate due to the initial Coronavirus lockdown.
“We had ramped this up just before the pandemic really took hold to see if there was enough interest, so a lot of them stocked up and we would deliver to our community, particularly households in the Aberwheeler, Bodfari and Trefnant areas; others would come here to pick up having pre-paid over the phone.”
As the weeks passed the team at Edenshine decided to produce a wider selection of meals.
“We expanded the choice again so people would not get bored of eating the same food day in day out,” said Janet.
“From curries to sweet chilli dishes and prawn salads – as well as sweet treats – it provided something different, a break from the norm, and it made life a lot easier.”
She added: “Lockdown also gave us the chance to make improvements to the building, which we wouldn’t normally have had.
“The kitchen was completely revamped so there is more space for the staff to work safely and we built a sheltered outdoor area to ensure social distancing.”
When the centre eventually reopened in July, their regular clientele came flooding back, and there were new faces as well.
“We are fortunate to have people who visit us regularly, and their support is something we greatly appreciate,” said Janet.
“We have done a lot of work behind the scenes because we wanted them to feel confident – their health and safety, and that of our staff, is the number one priority.
“There are now 12 tables in the restaurant and screens in place, along with strict cleaning routines, which gives visitors peace of mind.
“That seems to have worked well, the customers have given us great feedback. They have stayed with us throughout this and I hope that will be the case for other local businesses given the uncertainty we all face going into the winter months. We’re going to need that support more than ever in the future.”
The second annual Taste North East Wales is taking place online this year after organisers Clwydian Range Food and Drink and Llangollen and Dee Valley Food and Drink, with the support of Cadwyn Clwyd, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB and the local authorities of Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire, decided to host a virtual celebration to ensure the health and safety of participants.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Visit www.afonwen.co.uk for more on Afonwen Craft Centre, or follow them on Twitter at @janetdallolio.