This delightful truckstop lies on the busy A17 route near Holbeach and so is popular with truckers, especially those from the north, heading to or from East Anglia. It’s not the world’s biggest truckstop, as there is parking for only 25 trucks maximum.
It was more of a roadside café until six years ago when Susan Dunn and Becky Nicholson took it over. The two girls have transport in their blood and have worked in other roadside services, so saw the potential for the site, while also having the experience to give the service truck drivers require. But that said, this place is more than just a ‘truckstop’.
“We moved in here in April 2011,” Susan tells me. “We gave it a major clean and refurbished the gents’ toilets and shower facilities. Over time we have repainted and tidied the building as well.”
There are 13 staff who work with them to cook, clean, serve and do all the tasks needed to keep the ‘ship’ running smoothly.
The Lodge Farm Café is open 0700-2100, Mondays to Fridays, and 0700-1500 on Fridays. Weekends are 0800-1500. There are shower facilities, TV, pool table and a function room. The café is not open overnight, but the next project is to provide overnight facilities for the drivers should they need them, but, says Susan, “Although we officially close at 2100, we are very flexible. We won’t throw them out at nine, so if there’s football on, or some other event, we can stay open until it’s finished.”
The site doesn’t offer fuel, “As it’s not our property,” – they only lease the site – “and although we have a long lease for another 20 years, it’s something that we could not consider. Plus, there’s all manner of regulations once you start selling fuel.”
It costs £18 a night for parking, which includes the use of the shower. The site also takes SNAP. Parking is on a first come first served basis; “sometimes we are full at 1830, other nights we’re not. A lot depends on weather conditions and if there are accidents on other major roads,” says Becky, whose partner is a truck driver.
Susan is married to an ex-driver, she adds, “But we are more than just a truckstop, we are also popular with locals, caravaners and holidaymakers. We do Sunday lunches, and also provide a ‘meals on wheels’ service for the local community; mainly for older folk – both for long and short term. It’s not pre-packaged meals, it is food which is cooked in our kitchen, plated up, delivered and served hot to them. We are very caring about those who we are dealing with.”
She adds: “We have had drivers stopping over who have had need to use local facilities, so we can take them into Holbeach, where they can use the launderette, local shops or cash machines. We have spare towels and the basics for driver who get caught short. We like going that extra mile.”
There are three basic breakfast menus – small, medium and large at £4, £5 and £6 respectively, and while they have a ‘set’ line up, the staff will swap anything for anything, so if you don’t want a sausage, you can swap it for, say, mushrooms or bacon. The small breakfast is an egg, bacon, sausage, beans or tomatoes and toast. The medium is the same but with two eggs and mushrooms and fried bread added. The large menu is two eggs, two bacon, two sausages, hash browns, mushrooms, black pudding, beans or tomatoes and two rounds of toast.
“Everything is cooked to order, so you get what you want when you want it,” says Susan. “We use local produce, local butchers, and we use local seasonal veg.”
Everything is available all day. The lunch menu is varied, but with a ‘special of the day’ such as lasagne, steak pie, cottage pie, curry, or chilli. All the pies are home-made. “Liver and bacon is popular,” says Becky, “as a lot of places don’t offer it.”
There are a range of grills, such as gammon and mixed grills, both large and small. “Salads are becoming more popular. People assume that truckstops only do fried food, but that couldn’t be further than the truth! Our most popular meal is ‘something with veg’, truckers are certainly taking their diets a lot more seriously these days,” Susan says.
The desert menu offer crumbles, fruit pies, ice cream sundaes, banana splits and knickerbockers, pancakes and sponges with custard. Vegetarians are also well-catered for with jacket potatoes, veggie-burgers, salads, spicy bean burgers and omelettes. But there are also vegetarian breakfasts too.
Sandwiches and jacket potatoes are available for those wanting a lighter snack. There is no need to book as there is seating for 54 people in their café, and an extra 42 in the function room which is popular with Sunday diners. It is used by our local farmers, bikers groups and touring golf clubs for their pre-arranged get-togethers.
The premises has an alcohol licence, but only serves pre-packaged wines, beers and spirits – there are no draught ales. Tea is a quid and coffee £1.50, with lattes and cappuccinos £2. There is a selection of fruit and herbal teas, besides decaffeinated tea or coffee on offer.
This is a clean, tidy, and above all, very friendly place to stop and take a meal at, and well worth using if you are in the area.
Lodge Farm Café, A17 Holbeach, PE12 8LT,
Tel: 01406 424283