Monks Yard, the family-run conference centre and café at Horton Cross near Ilminster, moved premises on Tuesday 3 April – across the road! “It’s one small step for the customers, but a giant leap for our business,” said Director Dean Holling. “We couldn’t renew our lease where we were, but we realised this was giving us an opportunity to make our business more secure and to enable us to expand in future.”
Monks Yard is moving into the Horton Manor site, just across the road. A year of negotiations, with support from investors, well-wishers and local councils, enabled the Monks Yard company to buy Horton Manor and the buildings formerly used by Quest Computing.
The first phase of the project sees the newest building on the site turned into an attractive and high-quality café with state-of-the-art, purpose-designed kitchens. Meeting rooms, always a vital part of Monks Yarks, are available for hire on the first floor.
“We have worked hard to build relationships with local suppliers, and that’s going to continue,” said Mr Holling. “We try to see our customers and our network of suppliers as a virtuous ecosystem where success translates into a stronger local economy.”
The next phase will be the development of historic Horton Manor itself. Mr Holling said that, as a local family, the new owners are delighted to bring it back to life once more.
Monks Yard has doubled down on its commitment to support the area’s charities and social groups, promising to work with partners to develop a third building as a free space for groups which build social cohesion in the district.
“We have dedicated part of our takings, one day a month, to local charities, and provided space for groups who bring people together,” said Mr Holling. “We are absolutely committed to making Monks Yard a positive thing for the community.
“This is a new site and opens up amazing new possibilities for the future. Whatever we do, we are going to give the same level of care to our café customers, our conference groups, our staff and the community around us.”
Linda Vijeh, South Somerset District Councillor for Neroche ward, said she has been a supporter of Monks Yard from its beginning, 10 years ago, and that it was good to see it go from strength to strength as a community resource for Ilminster and the surrounding area.
“In addition to providing a convenient meeting space for many local organisations, super food and crafts for sale in the cafe, a community church and a venue for many fund-raising activities, the new site will enable more of us to take advantage of all that is on offer. I, for one, can’t wait for the opening!”
Jenny Wheadon, Head of External Marketing at Ferne Animal Sanctuary, said, being a beneficiary of one of Monks Yard’s monthly community days had raised their profile and increased their income.
“Having the support of businesses makes such a difference to local charities and Monks Yard certainly works hard at giving back to the community it serves most generously. We wish them every success with their move.”
Although Monks Yard has a loyal customer base from a 25 kilometre radius, the TripAdvisor review website has many positive comments from customers from across the country, drawn in by its handy location for the A358, A303 and M5.
Reviewer Springer16 summed it up for many: “Brilliant food. Friendly, helpful, attentive staff! Lovely atmosphere! Quick service!”