21st June 2018
One year ago today we gained the keys to our next venture. Daunted by the task ahead but determined to succeed, we set about the massive refurbishment. However, just two days in we were the victims of criminal damage to one of the large window panes at the front of the property. Doubt set in, what on earth were we doing? We are both heading towards retirement, Grandparents of five, having sold our large Victorian property in Stoke on Trent which had been both our home and our business for the last five years….
But the decision to move back to Leicestershire to be closer to our family was an easy one to make, so here we are.
The previous owners ran a French deli/café business from the premises, we were aiming to re-brand as a traditionally English Tearoom. So a complete transformation was required. We hired a flooring expert to professionally sand back and varnish all of the beautiful wooden floors.
Internally, everything and everywhere was dark and old and a lot of the fixtures and fittings we acquired in the sale would actually be surplus to our requirements. So the first couple of weeks were spent sorting out what we could and couldn’t use. The whole family helped out at weekends, even our Grandchildren got involved, chalk painting tables, chairs and odd bits of furniture. We were all there during that gorgeous Summer of 2018, hammering, painting, fixing, planning, it was hot and dusty work but we were starting to make a difference.
Quotes were coming in from plumbers, electricians, carpenters, decorators, our initial budget went out of the window. A lesson learned, refurbishment is very expensive, everything would cost far more than we had originally thought it would, think of a number and then times it by three! Branding of our fledgling family-run business was the next step, we needed a memorable name, something catchy but not too obscure, something simple which suited the business model, the building and the vicinity of Baxter Gate. So Baxter’s Tearoom was born!
We knew from the outset the colour scheme and décor both inside and outside needed to be fresh, eye catching, different and unique to the area. Our intention has always been to create a gentle ambience with pretty vintage styling and ‘home from home’ touches throughout which compliments the age and style of the building and creates an atmosphere which is very warm and welcoming.
We have three floors in the property, the ground floor is the main walk-in tearoom, we went for warm grey and winter white walls, colour was introduced by chalk painting the furniture different pastel shades, lots of bunting, pretty cushions and posies of everlasting flowers completes the look. A huge talking point has been our beautiful wall clock, made up of miniature bone china teacups, teapots and jugs all housed in hand painted little boxes which match the furniture in the room. We think the feature could be the only one in the world like it!
The first floor houses the large, commercial kitchen, which we redecorated and reorganised to suit our needs better, adhering to UK food safety regulations. The second room we completely transformed into our beautiful Vintage Tearoom, giving a feel of an English Summer garden, complete with bunting and floral garlands. We upcycled the old chairs by chalk painting a delicate cream and reupholstered using lovely designer fabrics. Mismatched English bone china, crisp white table linen and beautiful pendant lighting adds a touch of elegance.
Finally, after many weeks, we were as ready as we ever would be. Our grand opening was planned for Saturday 1st September 2018. The Mayor of Charnwood, Councillor Christine Harris, very kindly came along to our official opening on Friday 31st August 2018 and cut the ribbon, declaring Baxter’s Tearoom open for business!
Lesson two learnt, never open for the first time on a Saturday! We were busy all day and experienced a lot of teething problems, but we all managed to get through the day like swans swimming on a lake, with feet paddling like mad under the surface! But, more importantly we got through it as a team and as the months have rolled by, we have learned together and now, nine months later, it all works like a well-oiled machine.
On 24th September 2018, after just three weeks of trading, we were awarded a very good rating of 5 for Food Hygiene.
From the very beginning our traditional English Tearoom was always going to have a menu dedicated to everything homemade and local wherever possible. Our cakes and fruit scones are homemade, which always includes a gluten free option. We even provide a complimentary mini homemade shortbread biscuit with every hot drink ordered. Our homemade vegetarian sausages are unique to the area and our bacon, sausages, cooked meats, pork pie, free range eggs, salad items and fresh bread are all sourced from small, local businesses. We serve our loose teas in infusers placed in vintage teapots and use mismatched English bone china tea services.
Everything from the homely décor, freshly made to order menu, vintage background music and most importantly, the personal and professional table service, all combine to offer a unique and special experience for our customers. Reviews and feedback have been above and beyond our expectations, it’s so nice to know we seem to be getting it right!
In March 2019 we had yet another incident involving two of our large windows (that’s twice in just nine months). It was devastating, the crime has been financially detrimental to our business and it was upsetting to lose the exclusively designed window vinyls our sons had done for us.
Moving on, in May 2019 we launched the second phase of the business, Baxter’s Wine Bar. Tearoom by day, wine bar by night, but the same warm and friendly welcome, the same home from home atmosphere. The Wine Bar is currently open every Friday and Saturday evening.
It’s hard work and the stress is constant, but we are extremely proud of our family-run business, the journey continues!
David & Julie (owners)