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From potato shed to Back of Beyond, Tyrone woman Ann made her village a top draw for terrific cuisine

By Lisa Smyth

Published 25/10/2016

Ann Henderson of Back of Beyond
Ann Henderson of Back of Beyond
Back of Beyond staff (from left) Aimee McGee, Shannon Henderson, Ann Henderson, Leah McGee and Chloe Toal
Residents of Caledon take part in a recent Georgian festival in the village

A Co Tyrone cook who has been dishing up food to the rural community for 20 years has turned her attention to an old potato shed, in an entrepreneurial move which is transforming the village where she lives.

Ann Henderson, who was born and raised in Caledon, opened Cafe Rose in the village 14 years ago and last year she spotted an opportunity to build on its success.

As a result, she sought permission from the owner of a derelict shed at the rear of her cafe and has transformed it into a popular eaterie - aptly called Back of Beyond - that is now packed out every Friday and Saturday night.

Ann said: "We had an idea to tidy up the potato shed out the back and stabilise the building so we could use it for a restaurant.

"It has always been there, but it was always full of vegetation.

"We felt there was a need for more room in the cafe, as it was always quite busy and we wanted more of a seating area, and we felt that if we were going to expand, we might as well make use of the old potato shed.

"There used to be three bars in the village but they all closed over the years, so there wasn't really anywhere people could go locally to relax and socialise at the weekend. If you wanted to go out, you had to go to the likes of Armagh or Dungannon.

"We opened in June and at the start we would have had smaller tables, which suited us fine, as it allowed us to get used to everything."

While it is normally open for business on Friday and Saturday nights, Back of Beyond is also available for hire to larger parties.

"We've done birthday parties and things like that and we're pretty much booked up every Friday and Saturday night, which I think shows there is a demand for something like this," said Ann.

Significant investment and time was required to renovate the building and make it fit for purpose.

Despite making changes to ensure the building meets safety regulations Ann said that, as far as possible, they have tried to maintain the rural and laid back character of the building.

"It was pretty derelict and access was really restricted, and although we did manage to get a mini digger in, we had to use a wheelbarrow to get everything out," she said.

"We wanted an elbows on the table kind of atmosphere, we wanted it to be somewhere that people could come to relax, that wasn't too formal, and I hope that is reflected in the decor.

"All the cooking for the restaurant is done in the cafe, so the potato shed is really a dining room, with the ability to seat 24 people.

"The way we work it is that if you book a table, you have it for the night, so we aren't breathing down your neck waiting for the table.

"We hope that is in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere we are trying to create."

The menu also reflects the more laid back approach, and Ann - who does all the cooking herself - has created a menu which she hopes will appeal to a range of customers. "We have things like bruschetta, prawn cocktail and breaded mushrooms for starters," she continued.

"Our mains include dishes like a gourmet burger, fillet steak, a chicken dish and we have a vegetarian option as well.

The desserts are done by my daughter, Shannon, and they include cheesecake and brownies.

"We've tried not to have a vast menu, but we've tried to cater to as many people as possible."

As well as creating two part-time positions and opening a restaurant where local people can enjoy a night out without having to travel, Ann also hopes Back of Beyond will encourage more people to come to Caledon.

She believes this will, in turn, have a positive impact on the village.

"Everyone who comes to Caledon always remarks on how beautiful it is," she said.

"As a community we are working hard to inject new life into the village, create jobs, yet maintain the beautiful historical context of Caledon."

Belfast Telegraph

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