Calling motor mouths
Hungry? Pop to ours for a tasty drivein dinner!
My feet throbbed, my back ached and my throat was parched.
‘Anyone for a brew?’ my mum Leslie, then 57, asked.
‘Yes, please!’ me and my hubby Neil, 29, groaned.
Running New York-style restaurant Witham and Blues together was a fun but exhausting business.
It was August 2015 and we’d just closed for the night.
Mum and my dad Bob, 59, had popped in to have a catch-up.
They’d recently been on a driving holiday in Europe, and Neil and I weren’t long back from a trip to America.
‘We saw some amazing diners,’ I told them.
Funnily enough, Neil and I had been talking about opening a second eatery, in a big venue space attached to Witham and Blues.
We’d intended to make it into a Mexican restaurant, but neither of us were in love with the idea.
Then Mum and Dad told me about a car-themed hotel where they’d stayed in Germany, showed us some photos.
‘That’s it!’ I exclaimed. ‘We should make the second place a classic car-themed American diner! With bits of real cars inside the restaurant!’ ‘Great idea!’ Neil said. Like me, he loved American food – and the cars, too.
But that was nothing compared to Dad. He was such an auto-freak he’d actually built his own cars, including a green Mustang.
Excited, we drafted ideas late into the night, talking about the menu and the cars to feature.
Eventually, we had to call it a night, but none of us had far to go... Neil and I lived above the restaurant, and Mum and Dad lived next door.
‘I’m so excited already,’ I said as we got into bed.
‘This could be something really different,’ Neil replied.
Not long after that, we put our plans in motion.
Neil was in charge of designing the menu.
‘We’ll do handmade burgers and desserts to die for,’ he said. Dad would transform all the car parts.
‘I’m going to use Airstream caravan parts to make a dessert bar,’ he announced. And, as Dad’s plan came together, I was thrilled.
Now weõre motoring!
I’d been working on our branding... Neil came up with the name V-ATE, a play on words for a V8 engine. And I made a Facebook page to generate a buzz about us opening.
When the day finally came, I felt so proud.
The restaurant has the bottom half of old Vespa scooters as seats, pieces of Mustangs, Minis, and Subarus forming parts of tables.
As the centre piece, a bright red Chevy Apache truck has been turned into a bar!
The opening day last August bank-holiday weekend was crazy. People loved the idea!
Mum and Dad both help out, Mum front-of-house, Dad doing odd jobs around the place.
And, while Neil oversees the kitchen, I keep an eye on everything else as Manager.
Now seven months on, we’re doing a r-r-r-roaring trade!
We’ve served over 13,000 people and the road ahead seems very promising.
We can’t wait to kick everything up a gear!
We love American food – and the cars, too!
Anyone for meals on wheels?!
Classic car chow!