As the country emerges from three months in lockdown, we ask some of Devon’s hospitality and food producers, what life has been like. In our fourth mini interview, we chat to Mike and Leanne Welsh, founders and owners of M Welsh Catering Services.
Mike and Leanne Welsh are the owners of a multi-award winning wedding catering company based just outside of Exeter. We first met Mike when he was providing food for the Seven Stars in Kennford, and we’ve followed his journey with interest as he has built up an amazing business, providing bride and grooms with gorgeous food for their special day. At the time of writing, the government had not given any clear guidance about weddings and events.
1. What is the name of your business, and what do you?
We are M Welsh Catering Services. We are a wedding and events catering company.
Mike Welsh Executive Chef/Director
Leanne Welsh Secretary/Front of House Manager/Director
2. How long have you been in business?
3. The last few months have been unprecedented, as we are reminded often, can you take me through what it was like for you when lockdown was announced?
Initially we were terrified; wondering whether everything we have worked for and built up for the last 5 years was going to be destroyed. How long this will go on for and how can we adapt as quickly as possible to future proof our business?
4. How did your customers respond to begin with?
Devastation! It’s been an extremely tough time for both ourselves and our distraught couples. We have had to comfort brides who are heartbroken and in tears, reassuring them that despite the awful situation we will do everything we can to help them to rearrange the most special day of their lives that some had spent as long as two years planning.
5. What did you find particularly challenging adapting to a new way of doing things?
Fortunately we were proactive in adapting our business to offer chilled ready meals. Thankfully our business structure was not difficult to adapt to this and the support that we received from the local community was astounding.
We have had to invest in a few new items of packaging equipment to enable us to provide the high standard of service that we have become known for. We were also very lucky that we already have refrigerated vans which we use for weddings and events.
6. Was there anything that you felt went particularly well? Any big positives to take away?
We feel that offering takeaways has gone extremely well. We have had amazing feedback from all of our customers by providing restaurant quality food delivered to their door.
The biggest positive that we have taken away from this situation is that since offering the takeaways, so many more people have now eaten our food, heard about us or followed us on social media who otherwise might never have discovered our business.
7. Moving forward post-lockdown, do you see your business changing long-term, and if so, how do you think it will change?
For the foreseeable future we will continue to provide our chilled ready meals. As many other sectors of the hospitality industry are now allowed to reopen, unfortunately wedding receptions & events are still prohibited (at time of writing)
As weddings/events are planned so far in advance we have unfortunately lost ALL of our business from this year, with all now rescheduled for 2021.
With regards to how we think things will change… We are still awaiting clarity from the government as to when and how wedding receptions and events will be able to take place and exactly what guidelines we will be to required to follow.
We are unsure as to whether we will need to follow similar guidelines to pubs, restaurants & hotels or whether restrictions will be relaxed further by next year.
8. What would you say to anyone who has discovered an independent business who has supported them through lockdown?
Keep supporting them!
By supporting these independent local businesses you will be supporting someone’s life, much the same as they have yours during lockdown.
This also helps keep the local economy alive. We pride ourselves on buying as much of our produce as we possibly can from Devon and surrounding areas.
We would like to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank each and every one of our customers who have supported us through these unprecedented times.
You have made a huge impact, enabling us to ensure the future of our business for both yourselves and for all of our brides and grooms.
For more information, or if you’re local to their catchment area, to order one of their chilled ready meals visit the website: https://www.mwelshcatering.co.uk/