Ye Olde Hutte Café is on the A38 at Stratfordbridge in North Gloucestershire, just off Junction 1 of the M50, which itself is off Junction 8 of the M5, so it’s easy to get to if you are heading along the main motorway linking the West Midlands and the West Country.
This truckstop is a strange one, because, technically it’s not a truckstop. That’s because there’s only limited parking for – certainly big – trucks as such – and only during the day, but its location is right slap bang next to a large, wide, lay-by which is in a loop off the adjacent A38.
Hence drivers don’t pay to park here, and have a have a short, 50m, walk to use the facilities, but that is no real hardship. About 20 artics can park in the lay-by.
Currently, it is only open for what some might regard as restrictive hours, but hopefully that is set to change soon. It’s fine for breakfasts and lunch, but currently, not for drivers parking up for the night seeking a meal.
Inside there is seating for 48. It is open from 0700 every day (0800 on a Sunday), but presently closes at 1600 in the week and 1330 on the weekends. The establishment is privately owned and leased by Stuart Jessup. He has plans to increase the opening times to 2100, build a shower block and make it more useful to truckers.
“I took it on in September 2016,” he says, “and it was a bit of a dying concern, but we have turned it around and doubled the business.”
The place offers a wide and varied menu. There are various breakfasts – offered all day – which start at £5.45, with the super breakfast at £6.50. Egg, bacon, beans and scrambled eggs on toast are cheaper and lighter options to start the day with.
Hot and cold sandwiches are also offered while there is a range of lunch dishes such as ham or sausage with egg and chips. There is a choice of specials, such as cod and chips, liver and onions, Chicken casseroles, curry, chilli con carne, faggots, pies and vegetarians are catered for with veggie lasagne, Quorn cottage pie and veggie sausages. Portions are sizable! The meat and vegetables are locally sourced from nearby farmers.
Tea – which is properly brewed loose-leaf tea in a teapot and strained is just £1.10 for a massive mug. Coffee is just ten pence more. They’ll do milky coffee (£1.75) and fill your flask with tea or coffee for £2.20. Ground coffee is also available.
The Ye Olde Hutte doesn’t have the feel of a truckstop, there are no plastic tablecloths, and it feels more like a typical café you might find in an upmarket village. The business is a family affair; Stuart’s partner, Amy Jukes, who does all the home made cooking, is also a 50% owner. The other staff are also very friendly and chatty.
“We have had a few ‘battles’ with locals because we – obviously – attract trucks, but we are on the main A38 truck road so they would be parking here anyway.” In fact you could argue the café actually helps with the image of truck drivers as it gives them much needed facilities.
“The place used to very much be a truckers’ stop, but we have made it more of a locals’ establishment as well, and we get a lot more passing trade from motorists as the quality is good.
“We redecorated the place, made it warmer and more welcoming. We have improved the tables. We are getting more newer drivers calling in.”
Stuart plans to ‘relaunch’ next year as ‘café 38’ with a revamp and new kitchen. “It’s a viable business, now,” says Stuart who has 12 years left of the lease with the plan to extend that.
This site is not a 100% traditional truckers’ café, more a decent quality café which is welcoming to truck drivers and indeed one that is gaining a reputation amongst truckers.
It is a nice place to spend your breakfast or your 45 break, and if the plans do come to fruition to enable it to stay open later, and so serve more drivers with a decent meal before they retire to their cabs for the evening, then all the better.