Derbyshire farm shop Croots has officially opened its new café and restaurant, Shires Eatery.

The honours at the farm shop near Duffield were performed by long-standing loyal customers and local charity supporters John and Jean Griffiths.

The retired couple, who live in Draycott, have been shopping and eating at Croots Farm Shop regularly since it opened in 2008, and regarded their visits as ‘therapy’ after a period of ill-health, said Jean.

She said they were astounded to be asked to cut the ribbon to mark the official opening.

“We were absolutely taken aback,” said Jean. “I thought it would be at least the lady mayoress. It’s a lovely thought.”

Croots Farm Shop owner Steve Croot said: “We are delighted to open our new, expanded Shires Eatery. Our coffee shop was popular from day one and I’m so pleased that we can now welcome and serve more than twice as many people. Hopefully we’ll enjoy a sunny summer this year and we’ll be able to open up our decking area too.

“John and Jean have been loyal customers at Croots and we felt it was very fitting that they should help us celebrate the opening by performing the honours. They do such good work in the community.”

Croots has been working since earlier this year to expand its popular coffee shop to create the 60-seat Shires Eatery, which overlooks fields of Shire horses at Farnah House Farm in Wirksworth Road, as well as having a wider view of the Ecclesbourne Valley.

The new restaurant is serving a more varied menu, including a roast meal every day. New chef Kate Griffin is working alongside the existing hospitality team at Croots, and two new part-time assistants have been hired. Croots is also planning to take on an apprentice chef to help in the kitchen.

The expansion project marks a significant investment for the farm shop which was a runner-up in the Best UK Independent Food Retailer 2010 category of the Observer Food Monthly Awards and named in The Independent’s top 50 best food shops the year before.

Croots sells a range of food and drink produced locally, regionally and from further afield. It stocks products from up to 40 producers from within a 50-mile radius of the shop.

It also produces its own range of products, including sausages, pies and ready meals. Since establishing in 2008, it has built up a strong reputation for its butchers’ fresh meat counter – winning dozens of awards for home-made sausages, home-smoked bacon and other meat products.

John and Jean Griffiths cut a ribbon to mark the official opening of Shires Eatery.

John is patron at Treetops Hospice in Risley and Jean was a volunteer there for 20 years and remains a supporter of the charity.

They began visiting Croots not long after it opened and enjoy regular visits – both to shop and to eat.

“I became ill in 2009 and the staff there were so kind. They sent a card and some lovely flowers. We got quite fond of them all. We used to call Croots our therapy,” added Jean. “We have remained loyal ever since. We find the staff so friendly and so helpful. We have always thoroughly enjoyed the food in the café.”

Croots Farm Shop is open Sundays from 10am to 4pm (Shires Eatery until 3.45pm), and from Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm (Shires Eatery until 4.30pm). It is closed on Mondays.

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