Many of us may know Simply Classic as the 90-seater bistro on Shuttleworth Mead in Padiham. This popular venue opened in 2002 and not only welcomes diners throughout the day but can also be exclusively hired in the evenings and weekends for events and private dinners, complete with a 24-hour drinking licence and music licence due to its location.
However, there’s much more than meets the eye behind this family-run bistro. Simply Classic is home to contract catering, vending and an outside catering company that’s growing at such a rate that it feeds many of our borough’s workforce.
Classic Cuisine was established by Robert and Ann Bradshaw in 1996 and is a family affair. Their daughter Sally runs the business with her partner Chris Burt and her sister Joanne, with Sally having experience at venues including Northcote Manor. Like Sally, Joanne worked at The Bay Horse in Roughlee, whilst professional chef Chris spent 2.5 years at Claridge’s in London and several years at The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey. Whilst Sally, Joanne and Chris lead the day-to-day running and business growth of Simply Classic, they have fantastic support from all their staff, with Michael Noonan area manager and James Hunt executive head chef at the bistro.
Burnley.co.uk sat down for a coffee at the bistro with Chris, where he told us how the company started with four staff and now has 26 in Burnley and 14 in Sheffield.
“The business started out as an external catering company called Classic Cuisine, but in 2002 Simply Classic was born from an opportunity which was presented to us via Barnfield and H Rigg Properties to open a café on Shuttleworth Mead. It was originally planned as more of a traditional café to serve lorry drivers and workers, but we knew we could do so much more with it. We came up with the idea of the Simply Classic bistro and we’ve been here ever since.”
It’s also proven popular during the lockdowns, where it offered takeaways in the form of Friday night boxes (we were shown a burger box and it looked delicious!), as well as a three-course Mother’s Day meal. Via this offer, £500 was raised for Pendleside Hospice and Simply Classic matched it, earning them Bronze Ambassador status.
However, it’s the outside catering success that particularly caught our eye.
From Burnley to Sheffield
You may have come across Simply Classic if you’ve attended an event in the area, but we were surprised to hear just how much of Burnley’s workforce it feeds every day.
Chris explained: “We have a fresh on-site catering presence at many places in Burnley, one of the biggest kitchens we operated from is Victoria Mill at UCLan. We also feed the large workforce at Exertis and provide the catering at The Landmark. One of our biggest and most successful partnerships is with Boohoo. As well as providing meals for the hundreds of staff, Simply Classic also organises special events.
“Boohoo gave its staff ten days of free food at Christmas and a recent great event we worked with them on was National Diversity and Inclusion Week. Boohoo has a diverse workforce, so we chose seven nationalities and asked them what their favourite dishes were and what they missed the most. We loved doing it, and when some of the feedback said our versions were almost as good as their mum’s or grandma’s, we knew we’d done well.”
He showed us the menu and we must admit we were jealous. There was gnocchi- topped with feta, crispy bacon, soured cream and spring onions. (Bryndzove halusky) on the Slovakian day, baked rice with pork belly and black pudding (Arroz al horno) on the Spanish day and chicken koral with pilaff rice and chapattis on the Pakistani day, as well as a whole host of other nationalities, meals and snacks.
So how did Simply Classic end up in Sheffield? When Boohoo moved Pretty Little Thing to Sheffield, it was so impressed with the catering at its Burnley site, it also decided to use them for the Pretty Little Thing Sheffield base.
Simply Classic also provides corporate hospitality for Burnley industry giants such as Velocity Composites, AMS Neve and VEKA. Another fact we learnt is that many businesses in the area have vending machines filled with fresh food that is made at Simply Classic each morning.
Once made at the bistro, fresh vending machine food is delivered to the likes of Fort Vale, Coach House Antiques, Doric, Futaba Manufacturing and BCW Engineering. The vending machines have card readers on them for extra convenience and they sound like a great idea.
So, what next for Simply Classic?
“We continue to grow and are excited about the continued easing of COVID restrictions, meaning we can hopefully get back to our busy events schedule. We love doing weddings at iconic venues such as Towneley Hall and we hope that many people decide to make use of our bistro’s external terrace area, drinking and music licences for their own private events such as christenings, birthday parties, anniversaries and even work Christmas parties. We can even come to your home and cook an exquisite meal for your guests, and we are excellent value for money,” Chris told us.
We wish Chris and the team all of the best for a successful 2021 and beyond.