The Lakeside Country Café and Shop has a new owner.
The business at Ellerton-upon Swale, near Scorton, has been sold to military veteran and entrepreneur Simon Hilliard.
The businessman says he plans to invest more than £200,000 in the venue with the aim of creating a “destination championing local producers”.
The new owners also plans to stage a year-round programme of family events at the venue, including a winter wonderland experience, which will launch in November, as well as a German-style Christmas market.
The business was sold by commercial property estate agent Ernest Wilson on behalf of owners Graeme and Sarah Thompson, who have sold the business to focus on their neighbouring caravan park and activity lake.
Mr Hilliard, who was part of an elite Royal Artillery surveillance unit based at Catterick Garrison until he left the army in 2004, said he had fond memories of visiting the country café with his children.
He will run the venue as a family business with his partner Jayne Robinson and his three grown-up children Kayleigh, James and Sadie.
He said ten new jobs would be created over the coming months, expanding the Ellerton Lakeside team to 25 staff.
As well as a renovation of the 70-cover café, Mr Hilliard’s plans for the venue include expanding the site’s farm shop.
It will stock a range of local produce including fresh meat, chutneys, honey and ice cream, some of which will be white-labelled and sold under the Ellerton Lakeside brand.
The new owner said: “There are so many fantastic local producers, many of whom already supply the café with the ingredients used to make the dishes our customers enjoy so much, so we thought it made perfect sense to create a showcase for them by expanding the farm shop.
“We’ll be stocking the highest quality food and drinks from the local area and we know the demand is there for this type of retail experience.”
“There are lots of local families, including from Catterick Garrison, who are looking for activities they can enjoy doing together,” said general manager Jayne Thompson.
“We’re planning to broaden the appeal of this amazing place by creating great experiences that are done really well and will appeal to a diverse range of visitors,”.
With the café renovation and expanded farm shop due for completion in October, Ellerton Lakeside will also become a stockist of the Frenchic brand of chalk furniture paint.
In addition, the business will sell a range of bespoke hampers featuring local produce and marketed under the Hilliard’s Hampers brand, along with exclusively distilled Scotch whisky, branded with a military theme.
Mr Hilliard added: “After leaving the forces I worked all over the world in the oil and gas and mining industries and it’s really exciting to be back in Yorkshire embarking on this new adventure with my family, working together to make Ellerton Lakeside brilliant asset for the whole area.”
Michael Peel, sales manager at Ernest Wilson, said: “The demand for small businesses is massively outstripping supply in our post-pandemic economy as so many people are looking for a new direction and to forge a rewarding new career for themselves.
“Simon and Jayne’s inspiring plans for Ellerton Lakeside demonstrate the ingenuity and creativity that are the hallmark of successful entrepreneurs and we wish then the very best of luck with their ambitious venture.”