2 September 2019

From field to fabulous

Family is at the heart of the Green Cow Kitchens story –  the Evans family have added fine dining and a fabulous new venue into the mix of forestry, farming and traditional country pursuits on their farm at Whitbourne, Herefordshire.

A finalist in the HCR-sponsored Family Business of the Year category of the Herefordshire and Worcester Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, the business is going from strength to strength.

The venture, which involves several family members, began with a pop-up restaurant, Green Cow Kitchens, in a converted pigsty at Crumplebury Farm. This developed into a highly successful fine dining restaurant and is now expanding into a new luxury events venue with bedrooms.

The emphasis for the restaurant has always been on seasonal produce – menus are driven by what is fresh and available on the estate, from wild garlic or elderflowers to pork, beef and pheasant, depending on the time of year.

Husband and wife team Joe and Keeley Evans own the business – Joe, the fifth generation of the family to farm at Whitbourne, set up the restaurant in 2012. Keeley and Joe’s sister Megan work front-of-house at the restaurant, Joe’s mother Julia handles the flowers for the restaurant each day and the walls display oil paintings by his father Bill, an award winning artist.

The greatest challenge the business has faced recently was to agree collectively to gear up against the jointly-held assets to borrow money for the new venue – a big new build and a major investment. It involved not only Joe and Keeley but a wider group of co-owners within the family, all of whose agreement was needed.

Joe said: “Keeley and I put a huge amount of work into researching the opportunities, threats and risks of such a move. It was hugely comforting that the wider family offered unanimous support and even excitement to move forward.

“It has meant that whilst we all believe it will be a great success, if something were to go wrong, the decision to mortgage the estate was very much collective and we hope and feel that the burden of responsibility is shared.”

But this collective approach is backed up by commercial caution – Joe explained: “Whilst we are big believers in sharing business success, the ownership stays strictly within the family.

“For the restaurant and Crumplebury businesses, a robust set of shareholder agreements and lease arrangement have been professionally drafted. There is no mechanism for family members to be able to sell their shares outside the family without consent from the other owners.”

On a personal level, limiting the intrusion of business into family time is not always easy – Joe and Keeley have two young children. Joe said: “We try to be strict at enjoying quality time with them at the end of the school day, even if that does mean spending many evenings in the office catching up with paperwork while they’re asleep!”

The new venue at Crumplebury will open in October – learn more here link to https://www.crumplebury.co.uk/home/

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About the Author
Charlotte Thornton-Smith, Partner, Head of Worcester Office, Health & Social Care Sector
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