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The mother and daughter team at The Holy Cow in Chilcompton

Karen Mattick and Kate Beasley, mother and daughter team at The Holy Cow <i>(Image: Malcolm Rigby)</i>
Karen Mattick and Kate Beasley, mother and daughter team at The Holy Cow (Image: Malcolm Rigby)

In our latest visit to one of Somerset’s family-run businesses we chat with the mother and daughter team at The Holy Cow café in Chilcompton, renowned for afternoon teas and the occasional royal visitor!

Karen Mattick

‘The name was a no-brainer. We’re on a working beef farm and we’re right next to the church, it just fitted our circumstances. I did think about the sulky monk, but no, The Holy Cow.

We opened when one of the offices that are based on the farm wanted us to provide refreshments for them. So, Paul, my husband, nudged me into it, I was not initially very confident. But he said: “Yeah you can do it.” So, we started with just the downstairs of the stables. By the first lockdown and Covid, when we had to shut, we’d kind of outgrown the kitchen and the eating area really. We expanded, refitted, redesigned – Covid gave us a little breathing space.

It's not a coffee shop, it’s not a restaurant, no, I would describe it as a café come bistro. I just like it to be homely, casual, as if people are sitting in their front room. I like it to be cosy but with good food and coffee. I wanted a few sofas so people could come and chill and have a chat. We’ve got predominantly eating areas but we have the comfy chairs and then we have the garden area as well, which is always lovely in summer. We get a lot of cyclists and walkers coming round as we have the covered area outside.

My role has evolved. I used to be more hands-on down here that was when Kate was away travelling. When she came back she managed it and then I took more of a back seat and went to do more in the kitchen side and actually that’s my passion – where I’d rather be. Kate, much as she likes to cook, is better with people than I am. She supports me a lot because she’s good at making me look at things in a different way.

I like the fact that all our food is homemade, the only thing we buy in is the bread and the sausage rolls. I’m proud that it’s good wholesome food. I like to make food how I like to eat food. We use a local dairy and we use a local butchers, in fact the irony is that we buy back the beef that we sold to them!

Kate can takeover if she wants to, but I wouldn’t want there to be any pressure for her to do that. If she shows interest, she can. We’ve also got a good team working for us so it might work that they all did it together, like cooperatively.

Because we’re a Duchy farm King Charles, then Prince, came to visit a couple of years ago, obviously we had to keep it secret. He’s genuinely knowledgeable about farming and the environment. He came in here and talked to the team – that was a nice boost for them.

I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved, proud of Kate and all the team, because you can’t do anything without good people.

We get quite a few reviews and that always gives me a buzz, what I really like is when you walk past somebody and they’re saying: “Not been here before, this is really nice.” If you overhear something like that, it’s really satisfying, makes everything worthwhile.’

Great British Life: Afternoon tea at The Holy Cow is all homemade. Afternoon tea at The Holy Cow is all homemade. (Image: The Holy Cow)

Kate Beasley

‘All my jobs have been customer service based; I worked front of house at Babington House where there are high expectations on how things are run and then worked for British Airways and that’s all about the way you are with customers - that’s helped me in this job.

It was a big shock to all of us when Mum said she wanted to start up. She’d had so long looking after us and the house that we weren’t expecting her to take such a big leap of faith - going the whole hog and starting a business! Back then it was mainly set up for the office use, we weren’t really thinking of clientele that weren’t local. We didn’t know how big it was going to get.

It is a unique business, the setting, the history of the Manor House; it’s not standard high street, it’s based on it’s reputation rather than what you drive past. It's good working with my mum, obviously it’s not without challenges when you’re working with family. But I think the main plus is that you probably want it to succeed more than your average worker would. There are issues when we disagree and have to separate the personal and working relationship. I’m a bit more relaxed on certain matters and try and bring her calmness if she is stressing too much.

I do cook but she is definitely the expert when it comes to flavours; she’s the one that comes up with all the recipes for the salads and the specials. Her palate is probably better than mine. Though I do realise that I have picked up a lot of practices she would have taught over time. She’s definitely influenced me and she’s definitely the expert, that’s for sure!

We have talked on and off about me taking over, it's definitely something I am interested in. Because its family I can see all the added stuff behind the scenes, which means I can get an insight, but for me it’s the children first. Maybe it’s something we can run together; she takes on less and I take on more. Slowly over the next five years. I don’t think it will be a handover, it will be an evolution.’

Between you and me…

Karen on Kate: Love her to bits but she can’t keep secrets, in an amusing way

Kate on Karen: She’s the Tupperware Queen, a stickler for container and lid alignment

Company Info

Established: 2015

The Holy Cow

Manor Farm

Church Lane

Chilcompton

Radstock

BA3 4HP

Next Events:

Mother’s Day

Pancake Day

Socials:

Instagram theholycowcafe

Facebook The Holy Cow Cafe

Website theholycowchilcompton.co.uk



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