Massingham Stores and Post Office gets set to open new tearooms
New quintessentially English tearooms are due to open at Massingham Stores and Post Office this autumn.
Plans have just been approved for the facility to be housed in a stable block at the rear of the premises in Station Road, Great Massingham.
The tearooms project is the latest idea which can be added to a list of changes which have been introduced at the business since it was bought by Mark Eldridge and his wife, Kerry, in September.
Mark told the Lynn News: "The tearooms will be quintessentially English but with a modern twist with the furniture and fittings.
"We will be offering refreshments such as drinks, cakes, sandwiches, paninis and soups and expect to have seating for around 25.
"We hope to be up and running in two to three months' time. The tearooms will create two new full-time positions."
When Mark first took over at the stores, there were six members of staff and this has now increased to 13 part-time roles as he has developed the business.
"I have lived in Great Massingham for three years. I used to work predominantly in leadership roles at convenience food retail stores for around 20 years and I also pursued a career in property development," he said.
"When the opportunity came along to buy this shop, I thought it was the best of both worlds given my previous experience.
"Without exception, the feedback I have had from customers has been encouraging and positive. I have been received with open arms and warmth. It has been the best year of my life."
One of the key developments has been the introduction a mobile Post Office service which started for five months ago and travels to 13 villages in North West Norfolk.
"It's a Post Office on wheels, with all the services available you would get in any other PO. We also provide a limited range of groceries. There are steps up into the van and it also has a tail lift for wheelchairs," said Mark.
Since September Massingham Stores has increased its opening hours which are now 7am to 7pm. A card machine has been installed for customers to make payments and a new scanning system introduced for prices.
A brand new deli has been established which offers artisan cheeses and award-winning ham and pork pies. All products are locally sourced.
The bakery range has been increased and the store does "a roaring trade" in fresh filled rolls, sandwiches and coffee, which prompted the idea for the tearooms.
Lighting and shelving has been changed and more refrigeration introduced allowing the chilled food range to be extended.
"We have put in more than 700 new lines of food. The shop is only about 800ft sq but we make every inch of it work for itself," said Mark.
More by this authorJulie Graham, Business Editor