The Scene Deli

Start-up support helps hospitality lecturer practice what she teaches with new community café.

The Scene Deli

Hospitality lecturer, Molook Shaher, accessed start up business support through Tees Valley Business to open the doors to The Scene Deli in Stockton.

We caught up with her to find out how she is providing opportunities for her students and local businesses.

It’s safe to say Molook knows a thing or two about the hospitality industry. Currently working as a university lecturer, Molook is programme leader for Higher Education Degrees in Hospitality & Culinary Arts Management at Middlesbrough College. All this alongside studying for the third year of her PhD in Hospitality & Tourism management.

This year, Molook decided it was time put her industry knowledge into action, opening the doors to The Scene Deli in June.

She tells us: “The business unit became available at the same time as the third lockdown and the hospitality industry was hit hard yet again by the covid pandemic. During this time, I have seen my students and the industry that I have been in for so many years suffer. I wanted to put what I teach, and what I am passionate about, into action. So, the idea for The Scene Deli was born.”

The Scene Deli, based in Ingleby Barwick, offers a homemade deli service, with a sit-in café serving up fresh, healthy, locally sourced food.

A hub for the local community

For Molook, the business goes far beyond a café. It is a hub for the local community, creating space for local suppliers to showcase their products and offering meaningful employment opportunities for local people.

The café houses a gift and craft shop, proudly stocked with crafts predominantly from nearby suppliers on a sale or return basis. A monthly food market is another opportunity for local small businesses to sell their products.

This runs alongside regular community arts and craft classes, as well as cooking classes for local children age 8-14 years old to teach key life skills and to educate young people about nutrition and where their food comes from, taking a “farm to fork” approach.

With 9 members of staff already employed, Molook is passionate about creating quality employment for local people, including her students.

She says: “Five members of the team are actually past or present students of mine. It is fantastic to have been able to offer not only an education but also meaningful work to them. The business also employs a chef who was unfortunately made redundant due to the pandemic, and all of our team are local to the Ingleby Barwick area.”

Molook was able to access a £10,000 Start Up Scale Up Grant through Tees Valley Business to directly support the creation of two of these new full-time roles.

She says: “The grant helped to support the wages of staff, especially in the first few months of trading. This was a massive help in relieving the pressure of business start- up costs and allowed for the employment of additional staff.”

Further to this financial boost, Molook was also able to access fully funded start-up business support through Tees Valley Business to help develop a business plan and prepare the necessary financial forecasts to get the business off the ground.

She added: “Having this support from another person helps to ease the pressure, especially when you are dealing with all the different elements of starting a new business. My advisor was on hand to discuss and support with the development of each stage of my business plan, from financial planning to understanding our target audience. They were also able to sign-post to other organisations and highlight other funding streams which may be able to help.”

With this backing from the start, The Scene Deli is already looking forward to business growth.

Molook explains: “We are already in the process of further expanding the business’s offer with the provision of live music to enhance the food and drink offer, with our first event just around the corner. I am looking to giving a platform to local performing talent – all of this is part of our vision to make The Scene Deli into a thriving community venue where families can bring in children and generations can mix.”

“I would encourage anyone looking to setting up a business in Tees Valley to get in touch with Tees Valley Business for help and support.”

The Tees Valley Business start-up programme and ‘Start-Up, Scale-Up’ grant is managed by Tees Valley Business, which is the local growth hub for the Tees Valley set up by the Tees Valley Mayor and Tees Valley Combined Authority.

To find out more about The Scene Deli, you can click here to visit its Facebook page.

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