The iconic south Norfolk restaurant and farm shop, Goodies Food Hall, celebrates its 20th anniversary this November. A family-run business, Goodies has grown from selling potatoes in a layby to the multifaceted foodie destination that it is today.
Goodies Food Hall celebrates 20 years of business this November, quite an achievement in this day and age. The South Norfolk business, owned by Stuart and Kim Gooderham, has come a long way from its humble beginnings, selling potatoes from a truck parked in a layby, to become the comprehensive, destination Food Hall and stylish restaurant that customers frequent today. But whether it’s bags of potatoes or the finest rib of beef, dry-aged in their specially installed dry-aging cabinet, the business has always been driven by listening to feedback from customers. It’s something that Stuart and Kim are passionate about. And it’s Goodies customers who continue to ask for the highest quality, locally sourced produce, a great variety of Goodies-own made products, a fair price and a convenient and consistently good shopping and dining experience, seven days a week. Giving their customers exactly want they want is how Goodies has clocked up 20 successful years of business, and how it will continue to adapt and develop for the future.
Although somehow it feels like Goodies has always been there, people are still rightly impressed by the business celebrating its 20th anniversary. As Stuart points out, it takes more than just standing still to stand the test of time – and standing still isn’t something that Stuart or Kim do very well or very often! As a business, Goodies continues to evolve, surprising and delighting customers with something new to enjoy on their visits, and always feeling fresh. As with any business, there have been highs and lows on their journey, but by focusing on their core values, Goodies continues to thrive and Stuart, Kim and their family have always been determined to put South Norfolk firmly on the foodie map.
French’s Farm in Pulham, just south of Long Stratton, has been in the Gooderham family since 1959 and Stuart followed his father into the farming business. As a young man with an entrepreneurial spirit, keen to earn some extra money, he was tasked with selling bags of potatoes in a nearby layby – which he did very successfully, selling them by the trailer-load. On those long, cold, rainy days, Stuart would chat to his customers and find out exactly what they needed and would go looking to source this. Potatoes were followed by strawberries and asparagus – always sourced locally – and then the addition of a refrigerated trailer meant he could sell butchered pork, with their own sausages fast becoming the most popular item.
The quality of produce always shone through and word quickly got around. It wasn’t long before Stuart began looking at some of the disused buildings on the farm and wondering what they could be used for next…
Goodies Farm Shop opened in 2002 and Stuart and Kim quickly added their own butchery and bakery – making Goodies’ famous pork pies and sausage rolls – and then a deli and café. The business was fast becoming a destination for foodies and had expanded far beyond the original idea of a farm shop to become a destination Food Hall. Goodies’ location, being just off the A140 south of Long Stratton, means that it is perfectly placed to serve a wide area, but also is often the first and last stop of visitors on their holidays to Norfolk. You’ll often see caravans and motorhomes in the car park as holidaymakers fill up on the celebrated local produce they enjoy during their stay, and then picking up pies, sausage rolls, and a variety of treats and goodies to enjoy back at home as souvenirs of their stay.
As Goodies Food Hall retail offering expanded, Stuart and Kim realised they needed to look at developing the menu and offering in their café. Originally a farmhouse-style kitchen, serving Goodies’ famous breakfasts and Sunday roasts, plus lunchtime-staples such as jacket potatoes, soup and cakes, the café really offered only a limited opportunity to showcase the meat and produce for which Goodies were so rightly and increasingly well-known. And with plenty of garden centre cafés around offering similar menus, it didn’t offer much in the way of a point of difference. So, in 2016, Stuart and Kim began to look at redeveloping the kitchens and extending and enhancing their catering offer, drawing up plans for the 130 cover stylish-new restaurant that you can visit today. Kim already had a wealth of experience in running restaurants as her father was an experienced and well-regarded chef, and so Kim grew up in and around the hospitality industry, with her father running some of Norwich’s best known restaurants. Work to redevelop the restaurant began at the end of 2019 – just as life as we know it changed completely!
When lockdown came, Stuart and Kim knew that their business was agile enough and, with their brilliant team committed and enthusiastic to continue serving their customers, they were able to keep the shop open seven days a week and start delivering – initially filling a gap where the supermarkets could not keep up with demand. Lockdown presented plenty of challenges, but also opportunities too. Customers from south Norfolk, Norwich and Breckland gratefully received the delivery service, helping to grow awareness of the business. This continued a pace throughout 2020, while behind the scenes, the new restaurant was slowly taking shape.
Building and opening a new restaurant mid-pandemic was not without its challenges but thankfully the foresight of Kim and Stuart to create a light and airy dining space with a double-height ceiling and plenty of outdoor dining meant that customers often felt more confident and happy to dine at Goodies than at other smaller establishments during those early coming-out-of-lockdown days.
Stuart says: “It’s always been our ambition to put South Norfolk on the map. For too long, the area has just been perceived as the ‘bit of Norfolk that you drive through to get to Norwich and the Broads and North Norfolk’. But with so many wonderful producers and growers in this area, and brilliant chefs doing exciting things, it really deserves to be a foodie destination, and that is our aim. For too long, we have watched neighbours, friends, and customers drive miles for a decent lunch or a night out. It is our firm belief that people should be able to dine on their doorstep and enjoy the same quality of fine food and wine that you can enjoy in Norwich right here in South Norfolk.”
Two years on, Goodies Food Hall Restaurant is thriving. A fantastic team of chefs, headed up by Martin Jarrett, serve up a delicious breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu seven days a week. There are always Chef’s Specials on the board, and lunchtime set menus for those wanting a great deal. The menus are led by seasonal produce, and they really showcase the quality meat and produce for which Goodies is so well-known.
The famous Goodies’ breakfasts remain on the menu because they’re really important to the business, and they still embody Goodies’ core values – always local produce, where possible, and the best quality that can be sourced. The sausages are made on site in Goodies’ own butchery, and the bacon is cured there too. Eggs are locally sourced from Eye, and mushrooms from Flordon, and when in season, the tomatoes are sourced locally too.
However, there is now so much more to enjoy in the restaurant too, and word is getting out! Sunday Roasts are more popular than ever with the team often serving in excess of 300 on a Sunday, while in
the summer, the sunny garden dining area really comes into its own on the weekends.
Earlier this year, Goodies Restaurant opened in the evening for the first time. It was a huge success and now, on average, the restaurant now opens for a special evening dining event once a month. This evening service has quickly grown in popularity, and the events often sell-out well in advance.
For Christmas, Goodies Restaurant is also hosting Christmas Party Nights, together with festive lunches and afternoon teas and a number of private hire events too. More evening events are planned for 2023 and tables are already booking fast.
Stuart and Kim are now joined in the business by their son, Lewis, who is 25. Lewis has already overseen a number of new projects to improve stock management, ordering, and the overall running of the shop, including a new epos system. Meanwhile, daughter Abby is studying for a Masters in London, but always helps out in the restaurant when she is home. It’s often all-hands on deck during busy times! This means that Goodies retains that family feel. Indeed, customers can still view Stuart’s family photos in the restaurant lobby, a firm reminder of the business’ roots and farming days.
While Goodies will never lose sight of its roots or of its values, Stuart and Kim know that the best way to ensure that the business thrives is to adapt, develop and grow. They’re already looking ahead to the next 20 years, while still listening to customers and researching and sourcing the very best local produce, products and opportunities. Stuart and Kim have never been afraid to try something new and are continually investing in the business. Not every idea works straightaway and not every change is immediately welcomed but, together with their team, they’re always looking at ways to improve the business for their customers. Stuart says: “We focus on the three I’s – ideas, innovation and investment. Together with a strong vision, a focus on quality at the right price, and a great team, this is what will take our business forward.”
Meanwhile, Christmas, and Goodies’ busiest time of the year, is ahead. Their Christmas and New Year food orders are open, not only for meat but also for the wonderful selection of prepared dishes that Goodies make themselves, including their Christmas dinner for two. Experienced resident Hamper Queen, Lindsay, is busy making up a variety of seasonal hampers to order while the bakery team are creating the delicious Christmas puddings and mince pies that are so loved. There’s a real buzz in the shop, which is full to the brim with every kind of festive treat and ingredient.
In the restaurant, bookings are being taken for Christmas catch-ups over lunch and afternoon tea, and the new Christmas Party Nights are the ideal opportunity to celebrate the season with colleagues. The festive season kicks off in style with a Christmas Craft and Gift Fayre on Sunday 4 December, one of many events that the business hosts during the year. At Christmas, customers come from miles around to fill up their fridges and freezers with Goodies’ own goodies, although the shop is closed for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Although the current financial climate and energy costs are undoubtedly a challenge for any small business, Goodies remain optimistic about the future. Stuart says: “We won’t compromise on quality, and will work even harder to secure the highest quality, locally-sourced produce for our customers at the right price.”
- Goodies Food Hall and Restaurant is open seven days a week.
Please check website for opening times.
- Goodies Christmas and New Year order forms, and restaurant menus, are available to download from goodiesfoodhall.co.uk
- To book call 01379 676880 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Goodies Food Hall, French’s Fram, Wood Lane, Pulham, Diss, Norfolk. IP21 4XU