Hospitality & Tourism

Published: March 23, 2020 | Updated: April 9, 2020

“We’re no quitters” – Beales Gourmet launches ‘To Go’ delivery service in a battle for survival

Tony Beales, of Beales Gourmet, pictured before the company was placed in administration on March 30.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

“We’re no quitters. Hopefully this is not our last stand but it certainly feels that way.”

The words of Tony and Molly Beales, owners of Beales Gourmet, the area’s best-known gourmet catering and events business.

The ‘last stand’ is a reference to the award-winning company’s new division – To Go – which began its first deliveries of home cooked family meals at the end of last week.

The idea was conceived and actioned within days in response to the unfolding coronavirus crisis.

Tony and Molly had to act fast.

Their Poole-based business, founded in 2005, provides the catering for every type of event – from corporate receptions, lunches and dinners to award ceremonies and house parties.

Beales Gourmet also operates the lease for The Italian Villa at Poole’s Compton Acres, a favourite location for weddings.

And it’s the weddings side of their business which has been hit particularly hard by the current crisis.

A total of 220 weddings were hosted at The Italian Villa last year.

So far 15 weddings lined up for the next three weeks have been postponed – and a further 40 are expected to go the same way, and potentially many more after that.

It means £200,000 worth of expected business in the coming months has, at best, been pushed back.

Some may be lost for good.

Already 14 staff – out of a total full-time workforce of 20 plus up to 20 casuals – have been laid off.

Tony, 47, said: “It’s just about our worst nightmare and is completely outside our control.’’

‘To Go’ is an attempt to claw back at least some of the shortfall anticipated by Beales Gourmet in the coming weeks.

“We’re offering home cooked family meals, no fuss, no added nonsense, just natural locally sourced ingredients cooked with love.” said Tony.

The main dishes for this week, starting today March 23, include:

  • Seared free-range chicken with local mushrooms and red wine sauce
  • Tony’s chowder style fish pie with smoked Dorset cheddar & chive mash
  • Vegetarian mushroom wellington with cep puree
  • Slow roasted belly of Bridport pork.

All come with potatoes and seasonal vegetables and grilled ciabatta.

The costs range from £10-£12 for adult sizes to £5-£6 for children.

Three types of soups are also available, costing £4, and the home-made puddings, priced at £4, range from winter berry Eton mess to poached pears dipped in dark chocolate, perfect for vegans.

House wine is available from £15 and every order over £60 comes with a free bottle of wine.

The minimum order is £40 and delivery charges start from £5 but can be free depending on the value of the order.

Deliveries are on Wednesday and Friday from 3-5pm with orders required by 5pm on either the previous Monday or Wednesday.

The food is delivered cold with heating instructions and guidance.

Tony said: “We started ‘To Go’ at the end of last week, in time for Mother’s Day, and have been overwhelmed by the response.

“It’s also our way of supporting our local suppliers who are suffering badly.

“We’ve balanced the cost between a takeaway and going out to a restaurant.

“Ironically Molly and I have gone back to how we started the business 15 years ago.

“In truth, we need 160 orders just to cover the cost of a postponed wedding but we’re doing everything possible to secure our future, and that of our staff.

“This is a very scary time but we’re determined not to give up without a fight.”