Turner's Bistro and the White Swan
Turner’s Bistro and the White Swan are the product of two families and one chef united by a passion for food and wine. Inspired by a visit to a wine merchant in Southern France, Director Steve Turner explains how a wine shop and deli transformed into popular bistro, and how adding a pub to their portfolio won them the support of food critic Jay Rayner.
The idea for Turner’s Bistro was born in a wine shop in Carcassonne. Returning home to Lancashire, Steve Turner was determined to create a similar venue, selling cheese and coffee as well as wine, in Barrowford. In 2009, he opened Turner’s. Adding a few tables for wine and cheese tasting due to customer demand, the business grew.
When a high-end supermarket moved in on the same street, Steve knew it was time to take the business in a new direction: “We knew we had to create a different, stronger offering as they were big competition for us. “We refurbished and extended the premises to concentrate on building up the wine bar and restaurant as well as retail, and the business is now 80 percent food to 20 percent retail.”
Turners was already supplying wine to The White Swan, a pub based at Fence, near Burnley, when the tenancy on the venue came up in 2013. With a long career in pubs and restaurants, Steve saw it as an opportunity to create a unique dining experience – with the help of a talented young chef he’d worked with many years before.
“A lot of pub restaurants in the area are very similar. What we wanted to do was to create a menu that was local and seasonal and base the whole concept around chef Tom Parker. I’d worked with Tom when he was starting out in his teens, and always knew he’d be a great chef – it’s been his dream since he was a little boy.”
“After training at Northcote Manor, he’d gone to work in a five star hotel restaurant in Mexico, but we managed to tempt him back to sunny Lancashire to head up the kitchen at the Swan.”
Former Young Chef of the Year Tom is the lynchpin at the restaurant, which has a small, constantly changing menu reliant on local, seasonal produce. In fact in 2016 Tom became an equal partner in the business of The White Swan as a reward for his dedication and commitment.
“It’s all about having the right foods and a great wine list, with just three choices for each course,” says Steve. “The concept made the White Swan a massive challenge for us locally. It’d always been a traditional pub, one of last real pubs in the village, with no real history of serving food."
“The turning point came when restaurant critic Jay Rayner came for lunch and gave us a glowing review in his column. It was pure chance - a friend of his lives locally, and Jay was in the area for a food festival so he came to visit. We only spotted him when he was on the dessert!"
“He said how brave we were to do what we were doing in the location we were doing it in. As a result of his review, our sales doubled, and we’re now as busy on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night as we are on Friday and Saturday. Word of mouth and social media have also played a big part in helping us achieve success so rapidly – Jay’s review of The White Swan was shared more than a thousand times online!”
While Steve and his team provide the inspiration (and the perspiration), it’s Cassons Steven Greenwood who offer advice and support on accounts, payroll, tax and personal finances.
"I’ve been working with Cassons for 15 years and they have been behind Turners and The White Swan from the outset," says Steve.
“Steven Greenwood is very level headed, which is a great counterpoint to my enthusiasm. It’s always really valuable to have someone you trust, who’ll not just look after your finances but challenge your thoughts and plans and make sure you’re on track with them.
“Steven’s huge strength is his friendly, gentle advice. He understands our businesses inside out, and can provide an objective, external view, which is always helpful for a family run business! Coupled with this, Steven advises us on our personal financial and tax planning, including our pensions. It's a seamless operation between the business and personal finances, which is particularly important when you run a family business.
Cassons' Steven Greenwood, director of Cassons Financial Planning, commented: "It's a pleasure to work with Steve, Tom and their families on the businesses and their personal financial matters. There is never a dull moment, as they are always full of new ideas of how to improve and expand the business.
Steve Turner concluded: “Our next big aim is to expand by moving Turners into a larger property, and Cassons will be key to helping us plan that move.”
For further details about Turner’s Bistro and the White Swan
Please call Turners on 01282 619606 and the White Swan on 01282 611773
Or for more information please visit www.turnerwines.co.uk and www.whiteswanatfence.co.uk.
Stephen Turner and Turners are a client of Cassons business advisers LLP as well as Cassons Financial Planning Limited.