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Case study

Iron Horse Ranch House goes digital

How the Growth Hub helped Iron Horse Ranch House to future-proof against obstacles.

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What does the business do?

Set in the heart of Market Deeping, Iron Horse Ranch House is a family-run business serving up hearty, authentic Stateside delicacies. Founded in 2008 by her father, the American-style diner’s co-owner Verity Swinscoe now leads the business.

Using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients, Iron Horse Ranch House champions Lincolnshire produce while providing a warm, rustic atmosphere for its guests to enjoy both great food and great live music.

What’s the history?

Starting off as a small café in 2008, Iron Horse Ranch House has since evolved, combining the family’s passions for live music, motorcycles, and delicious food. The family’s dedication to quality and authenticity over the last 13 years has cemented the diner’s reputation as one of the best eateries in the East of England.

Along with many other hospitality venues across the UK, Iron Horse Ranch House sadly had to close its doors in March 2020 due to the pandemic. After an already tough few years, the diner was just starting to find its feet again as the outbreak of COVID-19 struck. Government restrictions meant that Verity was forced to shut down overnight, leaving her concerned for the business’s future.

Prior to the pandemic, Iron Horse Ranch House didn’t offer delivery. However, instead of giving up, Verity viewed this setback as a chance to develop the business. After six weeks of being closed, the diner began offering a pre-order takeaway service, where customers could place their orders ahead to be collected on Saturday. As demand grew, the diner began offering takeaway via a popular food delivery app – this app took away a large percentage of profit from the orders. Verity decided to take matters into her own hands by looking into developing the diner’s own app.

How has business Lincolnshire helped?

Taking to the internet, Verity scoured for funding opportunities to support her ideas for diversification when she came across the government’s coronavirus Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. Initially, she struggled to understand the business’s eligibility for this grant and enlisted our support to guide her through the application process.

Verity’s Growth Hub adviser encouraged her to access further grant funding, in addition to the government support, to help make her vision a reality. After accessing a grant to purchase new technology, the diner installed Wi-Fi onto the premises and got to work developing their app.

As restrictions eased, the app still proved extremely valuable to the business. Iron Horse Ranch House was able to open its doors again in July later that year, providing table service only. Thanks to their app, the diner offered a COVID-secure service, with customers placing their own orders through the app and having it brought directly to their seat.

In addition to creating the app, Verity invested in the diner’s outdoor space, purchasing a large marquee that resulted in increased footfall from those wary of sitting indoors after the pandemic. The marquee area has also meant that Iron Horse Ranch House can offer events with peace of mind about potential weather disruptions. 

Verity now feels assured about the future of Iron Horse Ranch House, knowing that they will be financially stable all year round thanks to the new additional streams of income from events and takeaway service.

Verity said: “We’ve encouraged other businesses who are struggling to go and speak to Business Lincolnshire.

“We really valued the time and support, it’s something we couldn’t have afforded otherwise.”

What’s next?

Since accessing support from our Growth Hub, Iron Horse Ranch House has hosted numerous events in their outdoor space, including a charity beer festival for Sue Ryder and a Christmas market back in November. The app means that guests can now easily pre-order their food and drinks for the occasion, minimising the need for extra staff and saving the business resources and money.

Investments into the venue and new technology have also helped the diner to reach a wider audience, with people travelling from further than ever before to taste their authentic American cuisine. Verity said the Growth Hub’s support has helped Iron Horse Ranch House to make the most out of the opportunities available to them, allowing the business to establish multiple streams of income and future-proof against future obstacles. Verity is now confident about what lies ahead for Iron Horse Ranch House and is looking forward to the future!

She said: “This has given us the confidence that if we want to develop in the future, there’s somebody there to help us and point us in the right direction.”