MEP praises Hilgay cafe for creating jobs

Staff at the new Barn Cafe at Dent's Farm shop in Hilgay. Picture: Matthew Usher. Staff at the new Barn Cafe at Dent's Farm shop in Hilgay. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Thursday, December 19, 2013
9:19 AM

A Hilgay farm shop and garden centre has unveiled a new cafe worth more than £500,000, creating at least 10 new jobs.

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Dents Farm Shop owners Tom and Alison Dent decided to extend the store after being repeatedly asked whether it had a tea room or coffee shop.

The new oak-framed cafe-restaurant at its site in Steeles Drove, off the A10, means the family-run business has employed new chefs, kitchen workers and front-of-house staff - with the potential for more jobs in the future when a new food hall opens after Christmas.

A children’s play area, where animals can be viewed, is due to open in the spring.

Mrs Dent said: “It has been a lot of hard work but it is brilliant seeing the realisation of it all.”

Dents started as a small family farm in the 1960s, when Bob Dent supplied the London markets by sending daily lorry-loads of salad, vegetables and fruit.

In 1990, Tom Dent decided to diversify the family business by opening a farm shop, offering a wide selection of home-grown produce.

The new cafe will use ingredients from the farm and will source goods from nearby farmers and producers.

Head chef Chris Lee said: “We have Sandringham beef on a Sunday and the pork and turkey is local. Everything we use is from East Anglia.”

Mrs Dent added that high-quality customer service was an important priority for her.

“Delivering a good personal service for customers is everything to me,” she said.

“Customers will get a full waitress service so they can relax and people who are fishing can pop in for a nice breakfast.”

Richard Howitt, Labour Member of European Parliament (MEP) for the Eastern region, visited the new cafe and praised it for creating new jobs while sourching goods from East Anglian farmers. “I’m proud of all the work that’s gone into it,” he said.

Mr Howitt also paid tribute to Fens Adventurers, an action group that invested in Dents as part of its bid to support farming, business and tourism in Cambridgeshire, West Norfolk and the Fens.

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