How Provenance in Westhoughton is making it easier to shop local
PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 March 2017
With a gold star chef, top local produce and a family carrying on a family tradition, Provenance has all the ingredients of a successful business. Emma Mayoh reports.
All of us berate ourselves from time to time that we should make more of an effort to shop local. But there are, perhaps, few of us who take on the mantel as much as Rob, Brian and Karen Tinniswood. So fatigued with the approach of supermarkets and the quality of food available, they decided to do something about it.
‘We wanted to do something to combat the supermarkets,’ said Brian, who is married to Karen. ‘We would be doing miles in the car just to get the quality food we wanted. ‘Not everyone else can or would want to do this. We wanted to try and change that.’
The idea started small with Karen wanting a small cafe. But the business actually started as a delivery service for people wanting to avoid buying at a supermarket. Karen has spoken to the local butcher, Beazley’s, and discovered he was looking to get out of the business.
But it was when they spotted a special building – one that their grandparents and parents used to run as a toy shop – for sale that everything changed. And what has happened is quite different from those first hopes and wishes. They have gutted and transformed the building into a bright, upmarket food hall with a beautifully furnished restaurant upstairs.
‘My parents sold the business to Toymaster in 1999 and retired,’ said Brian. ‘When we realised it was on the market, we knew we wanted the building back. We had to have it back.
‘It would have been cheaper to knock the building down and put it back up. But we didn’t want to do that. The heart definitely rules the head. We wanted to maintain the integrity of the building. Where we are sitting now used to be my dad’s bedroom when he was little.’
As you might expect with a business called Provenance, the traceability of food is key. But what the family group have also ensured is the future of some super local foods. Karen, Rob and Brian took the running of Beazley’s Butchers under the Provenance brand. Inside the food hall is a deli and bakery all showcasing local producers. There is also a traditional butcher with former Beazley’s employees on hand to make products loved by the locals. This includes the Beazley’s pie which had ceased production as well as a Beazley’s sausage.
‘Our first day was mental,’ remembered Karen. ‘It was all because of those pies. I was running up and down those stairs as if my life depended on it.
‘Everyone wanted one. The butchers used to sell frozen ones but it had been 15 years since you could buy a hot one, fresh from the oven. As more and more people found out, it all went a bit mad. We were doing 1,000 pies a day. Crazy.’
But the talented entrepreneurs’ biggest secret weapon is their chef. Lewis Gallagher is the former winner of several competitions and awards, including being an Acorn Scholar. He has also worked at some of Lancashire’s most well known establishments including Stanley House at Mellor. He is turning out exceptional food you’d be more likely to find in a city centre restaurant. It was a head chef position and the opportunity to mould a kitchen team at the inception of the business that attracted him to the Westhoughton business.
All the hard work has paid off. Within a year of opening they were entered into the Good Food Guide and were highly commended at the Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards. It is testament, they say, to the addition of Lewis who had got the kitchen ship shape and is turning out incredible food as well as the dedicated local staff. Lewis also has raised the profile of the restaurant with cookery events including at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival, where he prepared food with Michael Caines. The latter also decided to eat at Provenance when in Lancashire for the event.
The arrival of this family business has also improved the fortunes of Westhoughton town centre and other new businesses have started to set up shop. Rob and Karen hope, that with these other businesses, they can be a catalyst for the high street.
‘We do feel proud of what we have done,’ said Brian. ‘And we have worked hard. But we are really lucky too. And we know it.’