A chance encounter on an estate in Corby combined with ingenuity and hard work has resulted in a new cafe and business partnership.
Emma Wilkie had parked her catering van on a Danesholme estate road when a customer told her she should ‘go and speak to my boss’.
The boss turned out to be Matt Lapsley, owner of a steel fabrication firm, who offered to help Emma with storage and equipment.
After working together to create a permanent home for Emma’s catering business the pair have now opened a cafe in Pytchley Court, Corby.
The Mushh Room Cafe is a joint venture between design engineer Matt and caterer Emma, combining their skills and talents.
Emma, 34, said: “I had a catering van and Matt offered his cabin for me to use.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t get planning permission for the cabin, but the lady from the council said she had some units available.
“Matt and I just gelled so we put a business plan together and looked at the units.”
Coincidentally, one of the units on offer was one Matt and his brother Mark, a chef, had already looked at in Pytchley Court.
Matt, who has owns a steel fabrication company Fab Zone, said: “I thought it was too good to be true.
“Me and my brothers grew up around here. We went to Woodnewton and Lodge Park and I used to play around here as a kid.
“We picked up the keys on March 21 and we had to get rid of everything to strip the shop back to nothing.”
The pair set about fitting out the unit using 50-year-old Matt’s eye for design and ingenious repurposing of scrap items found around Corby.
Using steel from his workshop Matt created a counter, shelves and even menu holders from steel.
Reclaimed wooden pallets provided cladding, corrugated steel panels a decorative industrial look and lights made from old conveyor belts.
Emma said: “Matt had all the designs in his head and I had to trust him.
“We got the furniture from an online auction but it wasn’t until we picked them up we realised they were from Jamie Oliver’s Covent Garden restaurant.
“We also bought a Thomas Crapper toilet which to buy new is £3,000.
“When people come in I tell them to go and look at the toilet - the seat is very comfy.”
Matt and Emma spent the summer holidays working on the cafe helped by their families.
Emma was helped by her 18-year-old daughter Shinade Wilkie and her daughter’s partner Adam Martin, an apprentice carpenter.
Matt’s two children Poppy, nine, and Rosie, eight, worked alongside Emma’s younger children, Ethan Magee, seven and six-year-old Millie Magee and their dad, Steven.
Matt said: “The costs would have been horrendous if we’d not done it ourselves.
“It’s been a lot of hard work but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m 100 per cent happy with what we’ve achieved so far.”
Emma added: “It’s an absolute dream and I love doing it.”
The Mushh Room Cafe is open seven days a week: Monday from 8am to 1.30pm; Tuesday to Friday 8am to 4pm; Saturday 8am to 1.30pm; Sunday 8am to 11.30am for breakfast and 1pm to 4pm for Sunday lunch.