Antelope set to gallop ahead after SSG programme support
"The Growth Hub and Warwickshire County Council have been fantastic...receiving the grant has been a big help and means that we will also be able to employ another chef to cook the pizzas and another member of staff to take orders."
New jobs are being created after building work was completed at a 19th century pub to extend its range of food following successful diversification during lockdown thanks to funding through the Warwickshire County Council Survive, Sustain & Grow programme.
Artisan pizzas will be tempting pub-goers at The Antelope Inn, in Lighthorne, after an old shed at the back of the kitchen area was replaced by a pizza oven to provide a takeaway service.
Owner Tom Lilley decided to make the move after the success of its takeaways from its general menu during Covid-19.
After talking to Adam Plumb at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub, he was referred to the County Council’s Survive, Sustain and Grow programme and assigned tourism and hospitality specialist Andy Woodward.
Andy undertook a thorough evaluation of the business to fully understand their challenges from the pandemic to assess their various options for sustaining and developing the business when the pub was able to re-open.
The results showed that a takeaway service was becoming increasingly popular during the March to June lockdown. Andy recommended that Tom capitalise on the opportunity and pursued this option with the assistance of grant from the Survive, Sustain and Grow programme.
A comprehensive recovery report was also created for the business to help with their strategic plan over the next 12 months. Tom was also successful in applying for a £10,000 grant from Warwickshire County Council which he has matched for the building work to be completed, kitchen equipment bought and other supplies purchased to run the Artisan Pizza Takeaway.
Once the pub can re-open in line with Government regulations, two new members of staff will be joining the 11-strong team at The Antelope Inn.
Tom said: “We closed the takeaway service in March 2021 so that we could pull down the old shed and install the pizza oven and equipment and all the work associated with that.
“We decided to do this because during lockdown our takeaway orders were strong and we realised this could be another revenue source.
“Receiving the grant has been a big help and means that we will also be able to employ another chef to cook the pizzas and another member of staff to take orders.
“We have finalised the pizza menu and are going to be producing artisan pizzas using a sourdough pizza dough and fine ingredients for the toppings and we are going to be offering this takeaway service seven days a week.
“The Growth Hub and Warwickshire County Council have been fantastic. I spoke to Adam about what we would like to do and he put me in touch with the County Council who got Andy, one of their specialist consultants, involved. Andy reviewed the business and suggested applying for a grant which has been really helpful. We’re looking forward to re-opening and enjoying a slice or two of pizza now!”
Mark Ryder, Strategic Director for Communities at Warwickshire County Council, added: “This is a wonderful example of how we were looking for the Survive, Sustain and Grow programme and related grants to work. It is about not just helping small businesses to continue to operate in the short term but also to help them to branch out and evolve so that they can continue to flourish, contribute to the local economy and offer local employment opportunities.”
Adam Plumb, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said: “It has been tough for many businesses throughout the pandemic but particularly those in the hospitality and leisure sector,” he said. “The Antelope Inn in Lighthorne is a popular village pub and by deciding to permanently offer a takeaway service for pizzas by refurbishing a redundant outbuilding, Tom will also be creating employment in the area.
“The Growth Hub is here to provide advice and help with a wide range of information and support just like we did with Tom so I would urge businesses to get in touch to see how we can help them.”
The Survive Sustain and Grow programme is part of a wider package of activity to support economic recovery by Warwickshire County Council. For more information about the County Council’s Survive, Sustain and Grow programme, visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/SSGwww.warwickshire.gov.uk/SSG
For information about the wide range of business support available in the sub-region, visit: https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/ The Growth Hub is funded by Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, the District & Borough Councils and Government grants.