Ross and Lynn Horrocks of the Caddy Mann at Mounthooly near Jedburgh are keen to celebrate their victory in the Eat Game Awards with their customers.
The awards, the winners of which were announced just after lockdown in March, saw the small eaterie win best in the UK as well as Scottish Champion, despite being up against the likes of Michelin-starred Tom Kitchin and The famous Woodsman in Stafford.
Ross said: “We were highly surprised to say the least when we heard that we had reached the finals, but for us to win was absolutely amazing for us.
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“In a time of lockdown, when we had no idea when we would be allowed to open again, it was a welcome boost to us to know that our hard work from all of our team and the beautiful local produce that we use had been recognised as the best in the country, it was a really heart-warming.”
Lockdown has been hard on the hard-working couple.
Ross said: “It’s had an enormous effect on both our personal and business lives.
“As we are a family run business, the Caddy Mann has been our lives for over 20 years. We have gone from working flat-out, 16-17hrs a day to zero work.
“We have never had as much time without working since leaving school and the situation is totally alien to us.
“We decided from the onset of lockdown to close completely and not do carry-out meals, as we are in a rural position and it would mean our customers driving to collect and still having to enter the building.
“It seemed irresponsible of us to encourage our customers to go against government guidelines and put both ourselves and themselves at increased risk of infection.
“There was no way for us to safely operate in the way that other businesses were able to, so it was with a very heavy heart that we decided to lock the doors.
“One positive is that we have been able to strip down the restaurant, have a deep clean and redecorate from top to bottom, both front and back of house.”
He added: “We have changed our table layout to accommodate for the 2m rule, which would have only allowed us to run at around 35% occupancy. But with the 1m rule set to become operational coinciding with the opening of inside dining, we will be able to run close to full capacity, but still with greater distance between customers.
“Now that we have a date for re-opening it is very exciting, but also quite daunting. We still don’t know how confident people will be to socialise outside of their “bubble” or what our definite rules of regulating customer safety will be.
“We are virtually heading into the unknown, but we are looking forward to getting back to work and meeting our customers again.”
Annette Woolcock, head of Taste of Game and Eat Game Awards founder, said: “The Caddy Mann is a worthy double winner at the Eat Game Awards.
“Their ethos of sourcing quality ingredients locally along with the skilfully executed game dishes played a strong part in their recognition.
“As the awards are publicly voted on, the Caddy Mann has shown a strong support base that truly appreciate the hard and dedicated work of Ross and Lynn.”