Carole Burton and her partner Eric Wright thought they saw a gap in the market for a quality restaurant in the centre of Bridlington, and they have
since been proved right, as Ellerkers is now probably the most popular restaurant in town. Carole attended Bishop Burton College where she
obtained a first class City & Guilds qualification in catering, but she then married early and had two children, Marc and Shanie. During her
period as a housewife she was always in demand to make cakes for local village shows and parties, and with cake decorating being her
specialty, of course she catered for lots of local weddings.
It wasn't until the children were in their teens that she started back in business full-time, becoming chef in charge of the catering at Filey Golf
Club for three years. Her reputation grew and during the following few years she worked at nearly all the local golf clubs, including Driffield
and Bridlington. It was about this time that she met Eric, a Service Manager at a local garage, and together they came up with a plan to open
their own restaurant.
They both saw this as a wonderful opportunity, and took it very seriously. Eric left at the garage and started learning all about wines, as well as
spending all his spare time on his allotment growing fresh fruit and vegetables for use in the restaurant. Carole in the meantime knew exactly
what she wanted and set about creating the sort of restaurant she had always dreamed about. Eventually everything was ready and Ellerkers
opened to the public in November 1998.
Opening a new restaurant on a cold November day, out of season, is not for the faint hearted, but Carole and Eric needn't have worried.
Ellerkers was soon full of friends and members of the local golf clubs who knew that Carole was an excellent chef. Since that opening day
the restaurant has gone from strength to strength and now stands at the top of the league of places to eat in Bridlington, a fact borne out by
the number of regular customers who come back time and time again, many traveling from other parts of Yorkshire, and the North of England.
It was a pleasure talking to this charismatic couple who risked everything to make sure Ellerkers was a success. They have created a warm and
welcoming atmosphere in the restaurant, which is quite small, but they have used the space well, with different levels of seating separated
by attractive balustrades. In between the restaurant and the kitchen at the rear of the property there is a very cosy bar area where customers
can enjoy a drink before ordering their meal.
Eric has learned his new trade well. He still provides fresh fruit and vegetables from his allotment (he has four now) and has adapted with ease
to serving customers rather than servicing their cars. He has that natural ability of making you feel welcome and a bit special, and as well
as service skills he has also learned the skills of flambe cooking from the trolley, an important skill lost in many restaurants today.
Eric's zabaglione is as good as I've tasted anywhere.
Carole, too, has developed her skills in the kitchen, and is now cooking at a very high level. Like many top chefs she is self taught and has
never worked in a kitchen under other chefs. She says: "I've learned a lot by being a member of The Restaurant Association - visiting
many of the best restaurants and having the chance to talk to the country's top chefs has helped me produce a better range and quality
of dishes for our customers," which for Carole is what it's all about.
After five years, both Carole and Eric are firmly established in the hospitality industry. Appreciated by their peers and customers alike,
they have brought a freshness and enthusiasm to the catering scene in this seaside resort. They look set for an excellent future and it could
become a family concern before long, as Eric's son Simon is now well established in the same trade, currently working as a restaurant
manager in london for the Conran Group.
I don't know what Carole and Eric have in mind for the immediate future - I suspect they will continue to expand within the industry, perhaps
into the hotel sector - but whatever they do, with their love of people, their energy and enthusiasm, you can put your money on them
being a success.