Monday, 8 June 2009

Kate's Berry Farm, Swansea

A quiet little achiever in Swansea is Kate’s Berry Farm. This gem of a tourist attraction capitalizes on its magnificent view, its plain home-style service and attitude, and the fact that the product (strawberry patch) is sitting right there in front of you looking appropriately manicured, as well as natural.

I venture to suggest that maybe Kate does in fact procure a lot of her product from other fruit growing properties as well, but to keep up with demand, there would be no other way to run this business.

Yesterday, there was a continual stream of customers arriving and departing, with Kate and her staff racing round serving Devonshire teas and clearing back tables crazily.

Feeling like something plain and straightforward, Rita, Bec and Jenny made their way to Kate’s for a mid morning, old fashioned scones, jam and cream along with the traditional cuppa. As it transpired, Kate had added to her repertoire since Rita was last there, and now additionally serves Waffles, jam and cream as well as a few cakes. She is also doing her own line of chocolates I noticed.

She carries other local products there too, so I usually like to top up my pantry with jams, oils and any other goodies I fancy when I go there.

I found it interesting a few years ago when on a fact-finding mission up the East Coast, I popped in there to have a quick word with Kate about her employment and recruitment practices, and how she coped with a potential lack of staff in that area. She was adamant that she would only ever want to employ middle aged women. Middle aged women have those characteristics which make them attractive to employ, especially in regions like Swansea where you need a loyal, stable workforce in order for your business to succeed. They work hard and thoroughly; they are working for a specific reason, and for that reason they will stick at the job; they don’t call in sick at the drop of a hat, or after a night of clubbing; they are stoics; they don’t down tools and demand a coffee break every hour; they are used to battling on no matter what (when you have a husband and kids clamouring for your attention, washing that needs taking in off the line, a ringing phone, a damaged noisy child, as well as dinner to cook and serve up - all at the same time, a roomful of customers only expecting a meal to be taken to their table after the chef has cooked it seems like a walk in the park!).

Yesterday, it was obvious that she still adheres to that practice. Mums KNOW many of those things that others don’t. They know you just need to acknowledge your customers even if you are hectically busy doing a myriad of other things at that moment. They give you a genuine smile. They add a small, relevant comment to the mix which demonstrates they actually are engaged with you, albeit for one second out of their (and your) whole life. I don’t mean to bash young people but there is an added dimension to being served by someone who didn’t leave the schoolyard earlier that day.

Anyway – I love Kate’s Berry Farm for exactly what it provides, and will always call in there, secure in the knowledge that whatever I want will be totally predictable and constant, available and delivered – a factor which is actually quite rare with most other restaurants and cafes.
Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

why did ebb close down rita?

Rita said...

I'm sorry Anon but I think it's probably not appropriate for me to go into it at the moment. I have told you no more here on the blog than you would see if you rocked up there and found a notice on the door.

Christina said...

I'm so sorry to hear that news Rita
I hope all turns out well.

Susannah said...

What a pity about Ebb. I was planning a bit of a jaunt up the east coast soon, and had put Ebb on my "to do" list. I have also heard that Angasi at Binalong Bay is for sale.

Kate's berry farm is a real gem, and has been a favourite family comfort stop for many years. I can understand her point of view about staff. From a separate perspective, employers sometimes get the loyalty and commitment they deserve - recent family experiences of employment in the hospitality industry have not been particularly good - particular beef at the moment being a restaurant that should know better that has yet to provide a payslip, for someone who started work at the beginning of April. Requests (so that compliance with centrelink obgligations can be met) have been met with lots of excuses.

Susannah said...

In my ongoing quest for the perfect poached egg (I don't know why I am still bothering, after the fantastic breakfast at Ut Si the other week..), I was a bit disappointed at TLC Too. The eggs looked good, but regrettably the yolks were cooked almost all the way through in one, and all the way through in the other. I would have given them a bit of latitude had they been busy, but that had not been the case. The coffee is still very good, though, so I might just have something else from the menu next time...

Anonymous said...

so ebb's had the biscotti!!

Tassiegal said...

Sorry to hear about Ebb - their chowder still tops my list of chowder to die for.