FORMER RAF chef Ian Duckworth is happy with how it’s going at his first-ever business – The Maple Leaf, a bistro/coffee bar which he opened last month in Bridge Street, Spalding.
Fully licensed and air-conditioned, it serves great coffee and tea, home-cooked Lincolnshire ham, quiches and specials, paninis, hot wraps and North American pancakes with maple syrup.
Now Ian (46) who’s been joined in the business by wife Kay, front of house manager Marie Wetherill, trained barista Jade Hales and two other staff, is hoping to set up ordering for a more comprehensive online takeaway menu, so work colleagues can phone through in advance before picking up a collective order.
Other plans for the near-future include occasional restaurant nights (at the moment The Maple Leaf closes at 5pm, Monday to Saturday) and getting even better equipped for summer with new pavement cafe furniture, extra-good ice cream and new ice-cream milkshakes.
Ian also has his eye on audiences for the nearby South Holland Centre with a view to providing theatre suppers later on.
He said: “I know Spalding through working here for the last four years since leaving the RAF, and I knew what I was getting into both in financial and marketplace terms.
“This is the first business I’ve owned but in the RAF when you get to sergeant you’re responsible for budgets of hundreds of thousands of pounds. It’s different, but not so very different.”
During his long career as a chef with the RAF, Ian twice prepared meals for the Queen and cooked for other members of the royal family.