As Father Christmas prepares to welcome thousands of excited youngsters and their parents aboard the annual “Santa Specials” at Ruddington’s Great Central Railway (Nottingham), the newly relaunched restaurant there will also be worth a visit this year.
‘The Heritage Café’ officially opens this Saturday (1st December) under the new management team of Karen Law and her partner Jim Goodinson. Karen is a former healthcare worker, with experience in catering, whilst Jim is a painter and decorator who’s currently helping out with the new venture. Both are already well known around The Heritage Centre – as Jim runs the Model Railway there in his spare time. It seems GCRN boss Phil Stanway was keen to offer the café to the couple when its lease came up for renewal – to breath some new life into the onsite venue.
“I was very nervous and kept saying no at first” says Karen “but my daughter Katie is a Level 3 Chef and persuaded me to take it on – saying that next year she’ll come and work with me. Together we could turn the place around and make it a lot better!”
Meantime, Karen and Jim’s ‘baptism of fire’ was November’s Firework Spectacular when they opened to the general public for the first time. Having got through that night unscathed, they’re now good and ready for the festive rush! They’ve already opened up the little side room as a new Tea Room – with a better, new access on the cards. “We’ve got plans to smarten the whole place up in January” Karen explains. “We’re going Great Central green and cream and adding to the railway memorabilia inside – and then improving the outside seating area for the summer.”
Meantime expanding the previously limited menu was a priority. As well as sandwiches and salads Karen has been offering a ‘Full English All Day Breakfast’ – and the trial of a new Sunday Roast was a success. “We’re stopping them now until the 23rd December – because we’re doing a Christmas dinner with things like turkey sandwiches instead.”
Wednesday is traditionally ‘Maintenance Day’ for all the GCRN volunteers, and currently the only weekday the café opens, although the public is very welcome then, too. Otherwise it’s Saturdays and Sundays through December which will be keeping the new caterers at their busiest!
As for the future? Karen says: “We’ve got the chance to expand. We’ve got The Gatehouse here – and could go onto a carriage to do the Buffet Car for birthday parties and private little functions – and maybe start outside catering for all the offices around here, too!”
You can find out more about this December’s ‘Santa Specials’ at GCRN >>HERE<<.