The Mill Canteen in Shelley is under new management – and people are travelling from across the borough to sample its wares.
Tanya Goldthorpe liked the heat so much she couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen, giving up a planned career in graphic design along the way.
“Sitting in front of a computer all day wasn’t for me,” says the 26-year-old, who took over the former Old Canteen at Barncliffe Mills last February and spent two months on a full renovation before opening the doors with an amended name.
Partly that was to put her own stamp on the place. But she also admits that a damning zero hygiene rating from Kirklees Council had given The Old Canteen something of a stigma.
“I want everybody to know that we are completely new. We have completely refurbished the kitchen with all new equipment. And we have just received our five-star hygiene rating from Kirklees Council. We are very clean!” she laughs.
The overhaul hasn’t stopped at the facilities. Tanya re-designed the decor to include period pictures of the area, which has met with the approval of locals and regulars.
And when it comes to the menu, she has incorporated her own personal favourites. Alongside the all-day breakfast, burgers and cakes are home-made soups and pies, which link back to her days as a cook in her aunt’s pub.
“From the age of 13 I spent years on and off in the Waggon & Horses at Langsett. I waited on, served behind the bar and did the cooking. That led to me doing a catering course. I’ve always wanted my own place.
“I make a different soup every few days. And I also make lovely pies.”
Tanya is being supported in her first venture by parents Kath and Kevin. He runs MoT test station KG Autos, also in Barncliffe Mills on Near Bank, whilst mum Kath is in charge of KG Campervan Hire immediately next door to the Mill Canteen.
Says Tanya: “If we get really busy and I can’t cope I can always run down to the garage for my mum!”
She has been buoyed up by customers’ reactions to the menu and to the cafe. Morning trade comes from other residents of the mill. But people are travelling in on special visits from Holmfirth, Shepley and Kirkburton. The word is spreading.
“They really like the atmosphere. We’re a bit unusual, a bit quirky. There have been a lot of changes, and people seem to like that.
“I do all the cooking, so it’s tough and exhausting. It’s a huge amount of work, but it’s been fine. We have some brilliant staff and we have a good laugh.
“The biggest challenge is knowing what is coming day to day. We can be quiet. The next day we are rushing to get everything out. It’s never short of exciting.”