INDEPENDENT food and drink producers in Warrington have been showing their resilience as businesses fight to survive the coronavirus crisis.

On Monday, the Prime Minister brought in strict restrictions on everyday life ordering us all to stay at home to tackle ‘the biggest threat this country has faced for decades’.

We can now only shop for essential items to slow the virus’s spread but delivery of goods still appears to be within the rules for now. Warrington businesses have been adapting to the huge changes as they go along and we have been following some of their stories.

Among them is To-Pie-For, an award-winning company run by couple Shane Nield and Lindsay James.

They have recently fulfilled their dream of opening a pie shop in Fearnhead which is open from Wednesday to Saturday.

Obviously, this has coincided with the outbreak but they are remaining optimistic.

Warrington Guardian:

The launch, a fortnight ago, saw a massive response with around 400 pies sold a day but Shane has now had to limit the Station Road North shop to two customers at a time.

Shane, a former Padgate High student, said: “With everything that’s been going on, I thought we’d have really struggled but it’s been really busy.

“I’ve had to take all the seating out and we’re only letting two in at a time to see how that goes. We’re also looking at a delivery service.

“You’ve just got to get on with it. Everyone’s in the same boat. It’s been a bit surreal though.

“Getting some of the ingredients has been hard because of people going a bit crazy on the shopping side of it.

“So say when I’ve come to look for some cream to make the peppercorn pies it’s non-existent. It has an effect on what I can put out in the shop.

“I want to say many thanks to people who have supported us through this bad time.”

Meanwhile, Warrington’s breweries such as 4Ts in Latchford have had most of their income cut off as the pubs they supply are all closed for an indefinite period.

4Ts has also had to close its own tap room, The Tavern in Church Street.

Warrington Guardian:

So the small team are now packaging their beers by hand – including more than 300 bottles a day as well as mini kegs – to deliver direct and contact free to their supporters.

Head brewer Jordan Millington, from Orford, added: “We also home bar set-ups for cask and keg lines while we have the equipment and beer in stock.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with orders since we posted about what we would have available.

“It’s been amazing. It just goes to show how fast the word can spread and how people want to help each other in hard times.

“We thank everyone who has ordered and welcome new orders – we are trying our best to keep beers coming to you.”

Over at butchery Snoutwood Trotters, Rebecca Scott and Liam Tickle have lost around six months of catering bookings.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday, the Great Sankey business, based at Laburnum Farm, is hoping to stay open as a food provider.

Warrington Guardian:

The couple have seen a lot more demand for their farm shop which was previously open fortnightly.

Rebecca said: “Things are a bit crazy here at the moment. We have decided to try and make our shop opening times a bit more regular to accommodate the current food shortage that seems to be emerging locally.

“We are just trying to produce as much as we can for everyone. We work on a small scale basis – operating free range farming methods – so we are having to balance this with our stock supply to try and meet demand.

“There is only the two of us here so we are taking what orders we can, and then offering everything else on a first come, first served basis to the general public.

“We are trying to encourage customers to shop sensibly and are hoping that by opening more regularly, people will purchase what they need rather than stocking up the freezer for a while.”

Snoutwood has also introduced a temporary delivery system particularly to support those in isolation, the most vulnerable and over 70s.

Rebecca added: “We have had so many heartwarming messages telling us that this is a lifeline for them in the current situation we are all in and this is exactly the reason why we introduced it.

“We spent the weekend delivering our produce on top of running the farm shop, keeping on top of the farm and also hand making the produce ourselves. As you can imagine we are pretty busy, but we want to do everything we can.”

The farm also has an honesty box scheme where people can pick up eggs – again due to shortages in supermarkets – limited to two boxes per person.

Rebecca said: “I would like to think that the current times will encourage people to think about shopping more local in the future.

“We have always believed in creating a community hub in which people feel confident in their purchases and there is more of a personal connection to the sale.

“We are doing everything we can to try and give our community enough produce to put a smile on their face in what can only be described as really uncertain and worrying times.

“We would also like to thank everyone for their continued support for what we do. And, if anyone needs any help, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.”

Elsewhere, if you are a foodie with self-isolation blues, another Warrington independent may have the answer.

Award-winning Room Forty is now delivering ‘afternoon tea in a box’. Everything is provided contact free – apart from the personal table service they normally provide.

Founder Jen Perry, a former Lymm High student, added: “We Brits know how to celebrate no matter what the crisis. And when the chips are down, we naturally turn to tea. Times are worrying at the moment so why not cheer yourself up with afternoon tea behind closed doors?

Warrington Guardian:

"We’ll deliver all of our normal five-star package to your doorstep which includes all of our sandwiches, cakes, scones, vintage china, cutlery and tablecloths – even bunting. We'll even provide notes to do it ‘proper’. And you don’t even need to step outside the door.

“We hand make and bake everything and we maintain scrupulous standards. Our customers health and safety is always paramount. So, no need to be upset about being stuck indoors. Call us and we’ll treat you.”