AN Allen Valleys business is celebrating its rise from a food van into an attractive cafe and catering business.

Jill Wilkinson, born and bred in Allendale, runs the small cafe in Catton, which is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday every week.

The cafe, formally known as Jill’s Catering, is also known by those who work there as ‘The Shed’ due to it’s unusual shape and the fact it was initially built as a commercial kitchen with garage space.

Jill also provides outside catering and supplies home-made frozen ready meals to people within the local area during the rest of the week.

She said: “I started the business 10 years ago selling my home-made food from an old van that my dad refurbished and did all the cooking in my own kitchen. But as the business started to grow I applied for funding to have a purpose-built kitchen constructed next to my house that would also serve as a garage for my van.

“After it was complete, more and more people would call in to collect their goods and stay for a coffee. This developed into the garage section being converted into a cafe area and we opened officially as a cafe twice a week that then moved to three times a week.

“We have been open as a cafe for just over two years and now I employ five local people to assist with cooking, running the cafe and delivering the buffets and meals. I wouldn’t be anywhere without all their help.

The cafe has attracted visitors from across the Tyne Valley and beyond, and also acts as a meeting place for locals, as it’s an unusual building with a fantastic view.

“There is so much uncertainty with businesses in the area and we are doing our best to bring people out into the rural parts of the Tyne Valley.”

Jill pins her success so far on the good quality traditional home-made food with a friendly down-to-earth team. She added: “The meals we deliver are a lifeline for people housebound or those that find cooking too much hassle.”