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Station's Artisan Bakery takes a Share of the Mediterranean
Friday, Apr 20, 2012
Station's Artisan Bakery takes a Share of the Mediterranean
Alex Franks
The Angel’s Share bakery – one of a collection of small artisan food producers based at The Station in Richmond – is to open a second unit at the popular tourist attraction specialising in homemade pasta and Mediterranean produce.

Owner Alex Franks, 42, who lives in Patrick Brompton and has a secret passion for anything to do with Italy, approached Station trustees with her idea when the unit next to the bakery became available and she is now living out her dream of expanding her business with an inspired continental twist.

"Pasta is hugely popular amongst all ages and it’s going to be really exciting to be able to offer my own variations, made onsite at The Station," she said. "I have invested in a new pasta-making machine and will begin by experimenting with ravioli, macaroni and pappardelle."

Mrs Franks also intends to make and sell freshly-prepared ready meals, such as lasagne and cannelloni, which she hopes to serve in authentic earthenware dishes, from single portions up to larger dishes catering for 12 people: "I want people to enjoy the homemade freshness by carrying the dish home and then re-heating and serving it at their own table. A small returnable deposit will be asked for on each serving dish."

The Mediterranean theme will be extended into other produce such as homemade pasta sauces, pestos, pasta salads, and olive oils. There will also be vinegars, sundried tomatoes and Parma ham, all supplied by genuine Italian artisan producers, many of them family businesses like her own.

"I want to keep that personal, home-grown touch," said Mrs Franks, who recently sold her Angel’s Share Delicatessen and Cafe on Grange Road in Darlington to concentrate on the two units at Richmond Station. "I was sorry to lose my Darlington shop but decided to put all my efforts into serving what has become a rapidly growing trade at The Station."
  
Indeed, with The Station now attracting in excess of 340,000 visitors a year, it’s no surprise that The Angel’s Share has enjoyed huge popularity and growth, among visitors and locals alike.

"The Station is a wonderful location and I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity to expand. It is my vision that one day before too long Station visitors will be able to buy everything they need for a quality dinner at home. I will be able to offer fully-prepared pasta meals and salad with breads and Italian desserts, while the other food producers can provide cheese, real ale, chocolate, fudges and ice-cream. It doesn’t get better than that!"

Alex, married to Jonathan an accountant, and mother of two boys, Louis (11) and Rory (9), entered catering after a high-flying career as a city banker. Her great-grandfather was a chef on Cunard liners and her mother, who also works at The Angel’s Share, originally ran her own outside catering business. Alex left banking to follow her love of food in 1997 when she returned home to join her mother’s business. She later went on to appear on the TV show Masterchef before purchasing her first shop on Grange Road eleven years ago.
 
Alex’s mother, Gillian Ives, also works at the bakery, alongside specialist bakers Diane Dinsdale and Marie Woodhouse and two part-time Saturday assistants. It is anticipated that at least one more member of staff will be taken on once the pasta shop is established.

Trust Chairman James Gravenor said: "The trustees are delighted to be able to support The Angel’s Share in their latest venture and wish Alex and her team all the very best. If the home-made pasta is as good as their bread and patisserie then it’s bound to be a resounding success. The Angel’s Share is a huge asset both to The Station and to Richmond generally. The Italian theme can only add to this by attracting even more interest from locals and visitors."

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