Behind the scenes at The Yan at Broadrayne
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Meet the family running one of the Lake District’s newest – and already loved – foodie haunts. Emma Mayoh reports
Retirement didn't go to plan for Dave and Sally Keighley. For many, taking that final break from work would mean a more leisurely pace of life, time to explore a little and perhaps the opportunity to do those things you've been meaning to get around to. But for the couple it meant opening a new bistro with beds, The Yan at Broadrayne.
It was in 2011 former Virgin Media managing director Dave and finance director Sally first fell in love with Broadrayne Farm just outside of Grasmere, a lovely spot overlooking the Central Fells.
It was being run as a hostel and they discovered the farm has bred some of the best sheep in the Lake District - Herdwicks. In fact, yan means 'the one' from the old Cumbrian dialect counting system still used for counting sheep.
The couple, originally from Yorkshire, had spent many holidays in the Lake District and could not resist the prospect of taking Broadrayne on.
'There wasn't anything we didn't love,' said Dave, beaming. 'There was the location, views, the character of the cottages here and the fact we just love this area. It's our favourite place in the world. It's been a brilliant move. We don't mention retirement now.'
Since then they have completely renovated the 17th century former farm building to include the bistro, seven bedrooms, lounge and rather special three-tier outdoor terrace to make the most of those views. While building work was still being completed they joined forces with daughter Jess Manley, The Yan's general manager and son-in-law and chef, Will, who had both been managing a private luxury chalet company and luxury hotel together in the French Alps.
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They opened the doors to the bistro with beds just a few months ago. Since they have been welcoming locals, tourists and national food critics. It's been a triumph.
'We've had such a lovely welcome from the community,' said Jess, a trained dancer who has also worked in hospitality across Australia, Asia and Europe. 'There were times during the renovation you don't think you'll ever get there, it's definitely been a labour of love. It's so exciting to be open and I really hope we become a favourite.'
Their success has been worked at. They are a family who like to get everything right - even down to the quirky light fittings that were agonised over during the renovations. It is this dedication to detail that makes The Yan such a special place. It is also somewhere sorely needed in this corner of the Lake District. A refreshing tonic to the grandiose of other Lakes dining establishments often pitched at the incoming tourist trade. This isn't to say the fine dining places shouldn't be there - certainly not. But for locals, a bistro serving top notch food at prices that don't hurt your wallet - or require several hours wading through a tasting menu - is much welcome.
Will worked at Michelin starred Forest Side and Windermere coffee lovers institution Homeground during The Yan build. His menus are full of fabulous feasting platters, and comfort food designed to cheer. Cumberland sausage, black pudding scotch egg, hummus flavours that change every day and glorious sticky toffee pudding all feature on his menus.
While some might consider working with family a complete no-no, it is this that makes them special. You can't help but smile when in their company as they mercilessly tease each other, in a way only family can. It is this wonderful mix of warmth and the superb, no fuss food that makes The Yan at Broadrayne such a lovely, and already much-loved, place.