The picturesque spa town of Ilkley, situated in the WharfeValley, at the Southern gateway to the Yorkshire Dales rose to fame in the nineteenth century when thousands visited to ‘take the waters’, breath the fresh air and enjoy first class hotels. Nowadays, the town has around 15,000 residents and is still renowned for its fresh air, moorland, quality accommodation and excellent food and drink.
Ilkley has a relaxed vibe about it and its somewhere you can go to treat yourself. There are excellent restaurants, hotels and independent shops to browse. Taking a stroll down The Grove and enjoying a trip to Bettys Café and Tearoom has been expertly promoted around the world.
Ilkley’s population is regularly swelled by the many events and festivals which take place throughout the year including The Ilkley Literature Festival, Film Festival, The Ilkley Carnival, The Continental Market and the monthly Real Food Market.
Naturally, a significant number of cafés and restaurants has become established. At last count there were a staggering 53 cafés, coffee shops, restaurants or hotelsserving a wide range of quality food and drinks.
So, how can a small independent tearoom, only a stone’s throw from an International brand like Bettys, win ‘Food and Drink Business of The Year 2019’ at The Ilkley Business Awards?
The Little Teahouseon The Grove Promenade, Ilkleystrives to be an oasis of calmin an increasingly chaotic world. It has customers who visit each day of the week and who really feel they arepart of The Little Teahouse. Claire (Owner) and the team try to make the Teahouse customers feel immediately at home by remembering not only people’s names but also their ‘usual’ order. The staff will engage with customersin afriendlywayand will deliver a personal service. It isn’t easy to build a team prepared to work incredibly hard, take on responsibility and develop this personal service when pay can belittle more than average,however that is exactly whatClairehas achieved.
The Little Teahouseensuresit knows the provenance of the dishes on the menu and has several secret recipes for some of its most popular dishes. The Specials Board changes on a daily basis and will change according to the season. It has been known forcustomers to give the chef recipes for him to make for them; dishes they are recommending the Teahouse puts on its Specials board. To achieve this in a sector with growing costs and seasonality takes commitment and courage.One customer recently wrote “I have visited The Little Teahouse on many occasions for lunch with friends and the home cooked food has always been really nice and tasty, the atmosphere has always been warm and the customer service has always been excellent…”
The Teahouse has added a small retail arm to its business but has not detracted from the calming tranquil experience of the space. It helps supports local producers of giftware and preserves by stocking their wares on its dresser shelves.
Recent years has seen The Little Teahouse develop opportunities to utilise the assets of the business for longer periods of the day for example with the introduction of Bistro Nights, Afternoon Tea parties and other events.
The key is to stay focussed on delivering the value that The Little Teahouse customers want and can’t find elsewhere. The economics are tough,so for the smaller independents life is extremely challenging. Despite this, The Little Teahouse has grown sales and profits sustainably. Even in a crowded market ithas very few competitors. The Little Teahouse won ‘Best Customer Service’ in the 2018 Ilkley Business Awards which was voted for by the customers themselves. Winning Food and Drink Business 2019 is proof of the focus and hard work of The Little Teahouse Team.