Family matters at The Ticklebelly Lane Bakery and Tea House. And this family-run business wants its customers to feel at home in its site just off Lincoln’s High Street.
“We wanted to create a place where people felt comfortable, a place for them to relax and be part of the Ticklebelly family,” explains Vicky Cook, operations manager and wife of co-owner James. A former headteacher, Vicky has recently moved away from education to help James and his mum Julie, Ticklebelly’s other owner, taking charge of a range of tasks across the business.
Those visiting the site have a choice of three rooms in which to cosy up, including The Bakers’ Suite and Attic that offers a selection of armchairs and nooks in which to escape. The decor across all floors is homely, with walls hand-painted by Vicky, trinkets, and chalkboard sayings such as ‘a balanced diet is a cake in both hands’.
It took a lot of work to convert the former photo shop into a homely setting. “It needed a little bit of TLC and a big bank balance,” says Vicky (James chuckles in the background suggesting she is being modest). “It took longer than planned and cost a bit more but it was worth it.”
On arrival, shoppers are greeted by an impressive window display stacked with a variety of loaves from Ticklebelly’s top seller, sourdough, to the unusual Dragon’s Tail (see box out), focaccia, ciabatta and bakery staples of white and brown loaves. Sweet treats, including vegan and gluten-free options, and handmade sausage rolls topped with pastry pigs adorn the counter.
While the pastries, cakes and other fare are prepared on-site by chef Dwayne and the team, the bread is made just outside the city at Ticklebelly’s dedicated bakehouse and delivered daily. The bakehouse also serves the business’s commercial contracts, including Doddington Hall, the local Waterstones café and nearby events firms.
At the shop, it’s clear the locals are taken with Ticklebelly’s products by the way they interact with the staff. “The feedback from the locals has been great,” notes Vicky. “One woman told us ‘Lincoln needs a proper bread the way it used to be made’. She now comes in regularly.”
With a menu covering breakfast, lunch and dinner, visitors can even stay late into the evening as the bakery hosts its first few Cake & Cocktails, Prosecco & Puddings night and other experience days. With that much to stay for, they’ll have to convince customers to leave.
Who: James and Vicky Cook
(pictured with their two children), respectively owner and operations manager, Ticklebelly Lane Bakery
What: Ticklebelly Lane Bakery and Tea House is just off Lincoln High Street and comprises a traditional bakery shop front with three floors dedicated to relaxing with cake and a cuppa or participating in an Italian bread baking class.
Where: 5 Guildhall Street, Lincoln, LN1 1TT
When: The bakery and tea house opened in November 2017, but the business has been a home bakery since 2010.
Why: “We started off in our kitchen and grew and grew,” says Vicky. “The new site was a natural step for us – it’s about moving away from being the name behind other people’s food to putting the Ticklebelly stamp on Lincoln.”
...On-site - Ticklebelly LaneOrigin of the name:“A public lane that used to run down the side of the house. A farmer would run his pigs down it and the grass would tickle their bellies. Hence the name.”cameramake Canonfocallength 35height 360fnumber 5.6exposuretime 0.0125camerasoftware paint.net 4.0.17originaldate 1/19/2018 3:40:23 PMwidth 640cameramodel Canon EOS 700DOpen plan: The ground floor of Ticklebelly’s site allows customers to see all the action in the kitchen, from the creation of homemade sausage rolls to cakes being decorated.cameramake Canonfocallength 18height 360fnumber 3.5exposuretime 0.0333333351camerasoftware paint.net 4.0.17originaldate 1/19/2018 3:57:54 PMwidth 640cameramodel Canon EOS 700DDragon’s Tail:This unusual looking loaf is one of Ticklebelly’s best-sellers. “Like nachos in bread form”, the plaited bread has a fiery kick and is topped with crushed tortilla chips.cameramake Canonfocallength 18height 360fnumber 4exposuretime 0.0333333351camerasoftware paint.net 4.0.17originaldate 1/19/2018 3:43:01 PMwidth 640cameramodel Canon EOS 700DBake & Date: Ticklebelly hosts classes and themed nights for locals, including Bake & Date, Chocolate Heaven and the self-explanatory Cake & Cocktails, Prosecco & Puddings nights.focallength 18flash 9cameramake Canonheight 360fnumber 4exposuretime 0.0166666675camerasoftware paint.net 4.0.17originaldate 1/19/2018 3:06:10 PMwidth 640cameramodel Canon EOS 700DPart of the family: “The small blue oven is one of the first we ever had,” says Vicky. It now resides in the tea house kitchen alongside a Burco double oven and six-burner hob. cameramake Canonfocallength 18height 360fnumber 3.5exposuretime 0.0333333351camerasoftware paint.net 4.0.17originaldate 1/19/2018 3:49:43 PMwidth 640cameramodel Canon EOS 700DLocal matters: “Where we can, we use local produce,” explains Vicky. Just 200 metres down the road, the Redhill pork farmer who supplies meat for the sausage rolls also runs a market stall.cameramake Canonfocallength 18height 360fnumber 3.5exposuretime 0.0333333351camerasoftware paint.net 4.0.17originaldate 1/19/2018 3:59:36 PMwidth 640cameramodel Canon EOS 700D