Major food award for The Secret Garden

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The staff at the Secret Garden restaurant in Dundonald are celebrating after the family run business won a major award sponsored by Andrew Ingredients.

Picking up the award has only enhanced the restaurant’s reputation as one of the hottest food destinations in the province.

The well presented and highly popular Co Down eatery, which is based at Dundonald Nurseries on the Old Dundonald Road, picked up this year’s Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council Business Award for Best Non-Licensed Restaurant 2016.

With over 100 businesses entering the competition it’s no mean achievement by the family run business and their team of dedicated staff.

Anne Cully explained: “Dundonald Nurseries was started 52 years ago by my late father Robert Hutchinson, a farmer’s son from County Cavan. He came to Belfast to get work and eventually bought a run down bankrupt nursery. He started growing lettuce, cabbage, cauliflowers and potatoes. He sold them around the doors and in the wholesale market in Belfast to James McVeigh and Sons. He eventually started to build glasshouses and grew the vegetables all the year round under cover adding tomatoes and chrysanthemums as well.

“With the popularity of gardening programmes on television he was able to branch into bedding plants which were now popular and more profitable. I joined him on leaving school and we secured a contract with the supermarket Crazy Prices. Eventually Tesco took them over and we now supply half of the Tesco stores in Northern Ireland with plants, hanging baskets and planted containers.

“Our son Andrew joined us and he secured a contract with Spar. He organises all of the orders and deliveries and day to day running of the nursery.

“In 2013 we built The Secret Garden Restaurant which has won numerous awards for delicious homemade food. It has a beautiful interior with lovely views and 125 seats so it is able to cater for large groups. It is managed by our daughter Emma who has a brilliant team of chefs, bakers and staff.

“In November we opened a new gift shop stocking more unusual gifts for our customers. It complements a new larger retail plant area stocking everything our customers need for their gardens,” said Anne.

“The nursery now produces over ten thousand hanging baskets and thousands of tubs and window boxes in Spring. On Mothers Day we produced 25,000 planted containers and similar amounts at Christmas. It has become a real niche market for us and our real speciality.

“From two staff in 1963 to 60 in 2016 we have endeavoured to keep the family tradition of trying to improve products and we try to give our customers the best quality and value for money possible. I think my dad would be very pleased to see the whole family involved in the business and with the same enthusiasm that he had when he started it all those years ago.”

For further details on the business see the advert on page 4