Business Start Up Scheme Helps Hospitality Lecturer Practice What She Teaches With New Community Café

Business & Invest | Published on: 16th August 2021

A hospitality lecturer has opened a new community café and taken on nine members of staff, including her own students, thanks to funding and support from the Tees Valley Business service launched by Mayor Ben Houchen.

The Scene Deli, based in Stockton, is the latest business to open its doors with the backing of the Start Up, Scale Up business support and grant scheme, which helps small businesses to start-up, take on people and grow.

Launching in June 2021, The Scene Deli accessed a £10,000 grant to directly support the creation of two new full-time roles, alongside practical advice and support to help develop a business plan and prepare the financial forecasts needed to get the business off the ground.

The Scene Deli, based in Ingleby Barwick, offers a homemade deli service, with a sit-in café serving up fresh, healthy, locally sourced food. For founder Molook Shaher the business is also 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 stocked with crafts predominantly from nearby suppliers on a sale or return basis and a monthly food market is another opportunity for local traders to sell their products. This runs alongside cooking classes for local children aged 8 to 14 to teach key life skills and to educate young people about nutrition and where their food comes from, taking a “farm to fork” approach.

Molook said: “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.

“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.

“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. 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.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Molook is a shining example of a local entrepreneur creating meaningful opportunities for her community, other businesspeople, and even her own students, all in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. This is what doing business in the Tees Valley is all about.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy and as we continue to recover from the impact of the coronavirus its more important than ever that our budding entrepreneurs have access to the funding, advice and support they need to start-up, grow and create jobs.

“I’d call on anyone with a budding business idea to take advantage of this funded support through our fantastic Tees Valley Business service.”

Through the Start Up, Scale Up scheme, anyone with a business idea who has not yet started to trade can access expert advice to develop their business idea. Grants are awarded directly by the number of new jobs forecast, with start-ups able to apply for £5,000 per job created up to a maximum of £10,000.

The scheme has supported more than 50 businesses and directly helped to create 100 new jobs across the Tees Valley, with more than £500,000 in grant funding already paid to early-stage businesses.

For more information about the start-up business support available through Tees Valley Business and delivered by the North East Enterprise Agency (NEEAL), visit

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