Mum who was down to her last £15 in lockdown opens restaurant

A woman who spent her last GBP15 on buying ingredients to make a meal which she then sold to a friend during lockdown has opened her own restaurant. Abbie Owens, 44, a former dental nurse, moved into the Caribbean food business as she was unable to work during the height of coronavirus restrictions in 2020. Within two years, her business went from cooking for a friend, to a market stall, to her own restaurant, The Jerk Shop, in Denton, Greater Manchester.

She says she still can’t believe it and that it doesn’t feel real, the Manchester Evening News reports. “I kind of dived in at the deep end but I’m so happy to have a home. It’s a great environment.

Every day I come in here feels like Christmas morning,” she said. When the UK was put into lockdown two years ago, Abbie, who worked as a self-employed dental nurse, found herself unable to work and not entitled to furlough pay. In need of money and with no savings to speak of, she taught herself several recipes from YouTube videos.

With just GBP15 to her name, she decided to put her skills to the test and bought ingredients to cook a meal. When she uploaded a picture of her efforts to Facebook, a friend was so impressed they offered to buy the food.

Abbie Owens founded The Jerk Stop last monthAbbie Owens founded The Jerk Stop last month

Word soon spread and Abbie was serving up dozens of meals a day from her tiny kitchen at home. As business thrived, she found space at a local cafe in the evenings and used money she had managed to save for a holiday to cover the rent.

In November 2020, Abbie moved the operation to Hyde indoor market. The Jerk Stop quickly amassed a loyal following for its popular dishes, including curried goat and jerk chicken with rice and steamed vegetables. But, because Abbie wanted to serve food and make deliveries during evenings, past the market’s opening time, she decided to seek out another venue last August.

Stints at the Masons Arms in Dukinfield and a site in Marple failed to work out so Abbie briefly returned to dental nursing to raise money for a trailer. However, the cost of powering the trailer made the venture financially unviable.

One of the secrets to The Jerk Stop's success is Abbie's homemade BBQ sauceOne of the secrets to The Jerk Stop’s success is Abbie’s homemade BBQ sauce

Abbie said she ‘nearly lost everything’ before she stumbled across an empty former cafe in Gibraltar Lane, Haughton Green, earlier this year. She moved into the building on May 11 and has not looked back since.

The interior of the site has been refurbished using upcycled furniture while Abbie employs a small team of staff, including her 21-year-old daughter, and several delivery drivers. Her extended menu now includes lamb chops and salmon dishes, and Abbie says business has been booming since she opened. “It’s been really busy,” she said. “I’m doing 18, 19 hour days but it’s worth it.

I’m not making a fortune but the business is doing really well.

“I never even expected to have a stall on the market so the last thing I imagined was to have my own shop.”

The Jerk Stop is open from Wednesday to Sunday between 12pm and 7.30pm.

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