Cheesemakers in race to finish building cafe
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
IT’S a race against time for Teesdale Cheesemakers’ Allison and Jonathan Raper to get work to their new Cheesedale Cafe finished in time for the grand opening, now less than three weeks away.
The couple, who moved their cheesemaking operation from Rokeby to Copley in January, say they can’t wait for the opening on Friday, November 15, when Mr Raper’s grandmother, Doris, after whom one of their popular cheeses is named, will be cutting a special cheese to celebrate at 11.15am.
However, the work to convert a derelict farm building into a cosy and welcoming boutique food shop, event space and cafe is far from complete.
Mrs Raper said: “Our list of jobs is endless and I just hope we have enough time to get everything done.
“Some days I get really, really excited and then other days I am overwhelmed with what still has to be done.”
She added work on the cafe building was far more involved than first envisaged and without the help from the EU Leader fund they wouldn’t have been able to afford all the renovations. The cafe’s menu will, not surprisingly, revolve around cheese.
She said: “We’ll have a range of cheese platters, fruitcake and cheese, cheese and biscuits, basically anything with cheese, as well as coffee and tea, of course.”
In the shop Mrs Raper was keen to point out products will be locally sourced and will include their range of cheeses as well as some Teesdale Cheesemakers branded products including aprons.
She added: “We’re going to label it a boutique food shop, as although we’re a farm, we’re not really a farm shop yet. But we do have a range of local products including cheese flavoured dog biscuits from Wellybix, Cow and Pig chocolates from the Chocolate Fayre, Calder’s Piccalilli and fruit cake from Burtree.
“As we grow things will be added. On the opening day we’re going to ask for feedback as well to see what else local people want or would like to buy.
“We want to support other local suppliers for the local community so we’ll have special artisan bread from Coghlans and we’ll be stocking a quality read, The Teesdale Mercury, as well as our own pasteurized milk, like the old days with cream at the top in glass bottles.”
And although work to complete the cafe, children’s play area and dairy viewing terrace is not complete yet, two new members of staff have already started to get to grips with everything cheese related.
Mrs Raper added: “Poppy (Wickes) will be doing all our markets for us and will be out and about before Christmas. When she is not there she will be helping in the cafe.
“Deborah (Bell) will be working the cafe and learning about the cheese as well.”
There will be a fun weekend on Saturday and Sunday, November 16 and 17, following the opening when there will be a number of fun activities including an opportunity to feed the chickens, stroke the pigs, see how the cheese is made.