Published: 08/04/2021If you have been making the most of your daily walks over lockdown, you may have been lucky enough to have already visited and enjoyed some goodies from Wittles Café in Castle Acre.
Having opened during the national lockdown back in December 2020, owners Simon and Andrew have made the most of relocating to Norfolk and opening their new business in uncertain times.
Offering a wide range of delights, from home baked cakes to warming soups, the best Single Origin Coffee to fancy hot chocolates and showstopper milkshakes - there is something for everyone.
What’s even better is that you can either dine inside the historic eatery (once it has reopened) or take away and enjoy at your own pace whilst exploring the beautiful village and castle ruins.
We love to support local businesses and thought it would be nice to have a chat to owners Simon and Andrew, introducing them and their new venture. If you’re ever in the Castle Acre area and fancy a treat, then be sure to visit Wittles and support this new, up and coming business.
Please introduce yourselves!
We are Simon Kerr and Andrew Talbot, the owners of Wittles Castle Acre. We purchased the property in November 2020, which was previously known as Barnfields Café and reopened under the new name in December 2020. We have moved from Cornwall where we owned a Café for the past 5 years. Prior to our life in Cornwall, we lived and worked in London where Andrew was at The Department of Health and Simon worked in the Luxury Hotel Industry.
What inspired you to relocate to Norfolk?
We loved living in Cornwall and it is certainly a beautiful place, however the remote location was tough. We still wanted to live in a countryside location but needed to find somewhere that was easy to get to London and other parts of the UK. Norfolk fitted the bill perfectly. Andrew knew the county from his childhood, as his Grandmother had lived here. We found the property for sale through Sowerbys and instantly fell in love with it. The heritage, character, opportunities to develop a business and of course the ideal commute to work were all winners for us. We also adore Castle Acre, which has to be one of the prettiest villages in East Anglia.
Where does your love of baking and making good food come from?
We both come from families where cooking and adventurous eating were part of our childhood. We have also both been fortunate to have travelled extensively over the years. The experiences learnt from other cultures transferred into our own home, where we have always enjoyed entertaining and trying out new recipes on friends and family. Once we bought a Café, this then grew from a hobby into a business, and we have both enjoyed the challenge.
What does Wittles offer?
As we moved in, England went into another lockdown. After reviewing what we could do within the guidelines, we decided that we wanted to open the business, even if it meant a minimal offering. We pushed a table (enabling social distancing) into the front door of the cafe and got to work baking a table of take away sweet treats each weekend, along with homemade sausage rolls and warming pots of soups, stews and curries. In addition to giving us something to focus on through lockdown, we also hope it brought some joy to our neighbours during these difficult times. It proved to be a great idea and has surpassed all our expectations both in the response from the Castle Acre residents, as well as in keeping our heads above water in the early days of a new business venture.
What are your plans for the business moving out of lockdown?
Mid-April will see the opening of Picnic at Wittles, Castle Acre. Our takeaway side of the business will continue to offer lovely home baked cakes, sausage rolls, pasties, handmade sandwiches/rolls, and of course great coffee. We are working with some amazing local suppliers to also bring our customers the best in Norfolk food and drink. These will be presented in our Picnic Boxes, called ‘Priory’ and ‘Castle’, which will be a great sharing experience for two people to enjoy down at the English Heritage sites in the Village. People will also be able to pick up local craft beers and wine, to take down for the perfect alfresco dining experience.
The Café will open in mid-May and the menu will showcase modern café classics. Plenty of familiar items and a few that push the boundaries. The summer will see lots of colourful salads, sharing boards, deep filled quiches, traybakes and showstopper milkshakes to keep the kids happy (and probably a few adults as well). All freshly made and showcasing the “Everyday Delicious” motto of Wittles Castle Acre. As it’s a new business, we intend to learn and grow, ultimately making sure we give both the visitors to Norfolk, as well as our neighbours in the village and surrounds, a great place to meet up and enjoy good food.
What do you love most about Norfolk?
Moving into the county during a pandemic has made things difficult to get out and about to explore. We have enjoyed some wonderful walks in and around Castle Acre and love visiting surrounding villages such as East Lexham, Great Massingham and West Acre. We did manage to pop up to the beautiful North Norfolk Beaches in December, enjoyed Luminate at Sandringham and a day out to explore the great independent shops in Holt. However, the one thing that has truly bowled us over is the amazing warm welcome we have received from everyone. The week we arrived, we were inundated with welcome suppers delivered to our door, beautiful scones, bottles of bubbly and tons of lovely cards from all our neighbours. We can truly say we have never come across such genuine warmth from a community. As rules relax, we are looking forward to growing friendships over a glass or two of wine on warm summer evenings.
Be sure to check out Wittles over on their Instagram and Facebook.
You can find their website here.