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Inspirational Women Q&A: Tricia Rawlinson, Whale Tail Cafe

Tricia Rawlinson

Whale Tail Café is a very popular restaurant, owned and run by Tricia Rawlinson for over 30 years. Tricia shares her inspirational Lancashire woman in business story.

What does your business do?

We are a vegetarian/vegan café. We have been in business for 30 years. We try to source many of our ingredients locally although since Covid and the challenging economic conditions, we are having to use more mainstream outlets.

We make all our cakes, which are vegan with gluten free options and most of our menu is now vegan with plenty of gluten free alternatives. We make soups, various breakfast options, pies, quiches hot sandwiches and three different salad bowls.

Why did you start your own business?

The business started 18 months previous to my involvement. I came in with three other partners 30 years ago. I have gradually taken over the role of sole owner. I came from a secretarial background but I was vegetarian and loved to cook. So when the café came up for sale I took a leap of faith which I have never regretted.

What has been your proudest achievement in your business?

Getting to know many hundreds of people I would not otherwise have met – both customers and staff. Taking the café forward, constantly updating the menu, whilst being sympathetic to customers favourites. I have now made the menu predominately plant based, which has been well received.

What is the most effective support or guidance you have received?

The most effective support has come from my partner, Phil, who has had his business for 40 years and who is always on hand with guidance and support. I have a book-keeping service to help out and a good relationship with my accountants.

With regard to tech, I will confess to not having the knowledge or the interest in that side of things but thankfully my staff are pretty clued up and keen to use current social media on the café’s behalf.

What keeps you going when things are tough?

My staff and our amazing customers keep me going. Having the legacy of the Whale Tail Café, which is not just important to me but a lifeline to a great number of our customers, especially our older generation who have been with us through thick and thin and also our young families who have a safe and welcoming atmosphere to bring their young ones into.

What are your best 3 tips for maintaining your wellbeing?

I try and walk early in the morning as often as I can, but I am in the café before 7am each day I work, so it just tends to be when I am off. Talk to your staff about how they are feeling and share your own thought too. Laugh – a lot! There is always some crisis or other to be dealt with, maintain a true and steady course and it will be got through.

What advice would you give to a female entrepreneur starting a business?

Go for it 100%. Be prepared to work hard and be there for your staff. Don’t set yourself above anyone and if you can lend a helping hand, do it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there is more help out there than there has ever been.

If you take a leap of faith, as I did, things may not always go to plan but have faith in yourself – re-group, re-apply and crack on! Website: www.whaletailcafe.co.uk


Would you like to see your business grow? So would we. To speak to someone from the Growth Hub about business support, contact Boost online or call 0800 488 0057.


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