Warwickshire County Council grant helps La Casa Loco adapt to changing industry
A business support grant has helped a popular Rugby restaurant serve up post-lockdown success as its owner prepares to celebrate a landmark festive period.
Shirley Gale has served high-quality Mexican fare to generations of Rugby locals and is now looking forward to a new era at La Casa Loco after a Warwickshire County Council Growth Fund grant helped the restaurant to adapt to industry-wide changes.
The Dunchurch resident has thanked the council for providing up to 35 per cent match-funding to help the Little Church Street eatery overcome a range of challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and thrive in the build-up to her 30th Christmas at its helm.
Shirley got in touch with Warwickshire County Council in September 2020 as the hospitality sector began to open up, after finding that the restaurant had got so busy that the kitchen didn't have the capacity to cope with the volume of takeaway orders when combined with dining covers.
The funds, provided as part of the Growth Fund’s Small Capital Grants programme, allowed Shirley to capitalise on changes in customer behaviour by creating a second dedicated kitchen purely for collection meals and renovating the bar to offer cocktails and relaxed tapas-style dining.
She said: “We did our best to make sure La Casa Loco stayed busy during first two lockdowns, but the fantastic support we have had from people in the local area meant that we saw a huge increase in demand once in-person dining returned.
“We are not used to asking for help but I am so glad that we did, as the changes at La Casa Loco have meant that we have been able to keep pace with changing times and build an establishment that caters to a range of customers without sacrificing our high standards or our amazing connection with the community.
“Like all businesses, we have also faced a lot of staffing issues with key members falling ill or being forced to self-isolate, so we would love to hear from anyone who wants to be part of the next chapter at La Casa Loco.
“I’d like to thank the people of Rugby for their understanding as we continue to navigate unfamiliar territory and supporting us when things have gone slightly off plan, as well as Warwickshire County Council for helping us get the support we needed to adapt.”
La Casa Loco pivoted to takeaway and home fajita kits in the early stages of the pandemic, ensuring that the business kept ticking over which allowed Shirley to retain all of her staff.
The new layout has enabled Shirley to make the most of takeaway and eat-in orders after being forced to turn off delivery apps at peak times in the face of overwhelming demand.
Cllr Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for economy and place, said: “With so many small businesses facing such desperate hardships during the lockdown, it’s great to see one that is actually expanding its offer having learned so much from the pandemic and adapted to make it more sustainable in the changing market place.
“I’m very pleased to see that they applied successfully for grant support from the County Council. This is one of the ways that we are working towards creating and sustaining a vibrant economy in Warwickshire – through supporting small local businesses with the finance they need to not only stay afloat but actually look to grow.”
For more information visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/directory-record/1/warwickshire-county-council-growth-fund-small-capital-grants