The father and sons making business a family affair

David Moss and his father Lewis Moss,
David Moss and his father Lewis Moss,
Have your say

They may be one of the most important men in your life, but could you work with your father? Catherine Scott meets some who do.

David and Lewis Moss, The Wensleydale Heifer.

Yorkshire Meatball Co owners David and Gareth Atkinson.

Yorkshire Meatball Co owners David and Gareth Atkinson.

When David Moss told his father Lewis that he planned to open a fish restraunt 50 miles from the nearest coastline he got nothing but support.

In fact his dad became not only his business partner but also manager of the highly acclaimed Wensleydale Heifer, in West Witton near Leyburn.

“My background was in retail,” explains Lewis who had owned a furniture business. “But in some ways it is a similar sort of business - you are providing something that people want.”

The challenge for the pair was to make the then rather run down Wensleydale Heifer a destination location. But with Lewis background in retail and David’s background working as a chef in some of the country’s top restaurants, it was a match made in heaven.

Roy and Will Richardson

Roy and Will Richardson

“The Heifer is in an isolated location so we had to become good enough and different enough to get people to travel to it,” says Lewis.

And that’s where David’s idea of a restaurant with individual bedrooms which he describes as ‘wacky but not tacky’ came in.

“It is important to be unique, to give people a reason to travel here, and one of those reasons is the fact that we specialise in fish and providing classical quality dishes with a little bit of inspiration from my travels,” says David who has worked in some top Yorkshire establishments, including the Crab and Lobster, and has received many culinary accolades. He trained at Longueville Manor, which, at the time was the Channel Islands only Michelin Star restaurant.

“I never thought for a moment it wasn’t going to work. We have fresh fish delivered daily.”

The father/son partnership has proved to be a massive success with the Wensleydale Heifer winning a host of accolade over the years.

“My father is the manager and I think it’s a real benefit that we have him here,” says David. “Without him I woud never have been able to get the finances together to buy this place. We have never had an argument in ten years. Whatever we decide to do we decide with each other. We both have the same philosphy - good quality is everything and making money is a bioproduct of that. We want people to indulge here whether they come for lunch or for a stay.”

The quirkly bedrooms which include the Chocolate Heaven room, the Champagne room and the james Bond Suite have landed them an AA Funky B&B award.

So as this winning father/son partnership clocks up a successful decade in business both David and Lewis would recommend it to anyone.

David and Gareth Atkinson, The Yorkshire Meatball Company.

It was while sitting in his conservatory pondering what he was going to do next that David Atkinson came up with the idea for the the Yorkshire Meatball Company.

“I’d seen a programme about the New York Meatball shop chain who had three meatball restaurants in New York. It looked like a great place to eat meatballs and drink beer,” says David. “I couldn’t understand why we didn’t have somewhere like that in Yorkshire with all our amazing produce.. I wanted to change the perception that we have hof meatballs in this country.” So he set about researching.

Having had a bad experience with a bsuiness partner in the past, David went to the one person her knew he could trust completely, his son Gareth. Although neither had any experience in hospitality, other than enjoying eating out themselves, they decided to give the business a go.

“Gareth thought it was a good idea and it seemed natural for the two of us to work on it together,” says David.

Gareth, who has a marketing background, had the logo sorted for the new business within two weeks of his dad coming up with the idea. What followed took two years of planning, researching and tasting before the Yorkshire Meatball Company eventually opened its doors in Harrogate in 2014.

They now have a franchise in the Indigo Hotel in York and the plan is to have five YMCo restaurants in five years.

What also makes this father/son team unique is that they have just raised the money to expand their business through crowdfunding.

“Banks aren’t particularly friendly to start ups and I have spent a lot of time over the years trying to get investment for new ventures,”says David a former RAF man.

But using crowdfunding saw them exceed their £100,000 target within weeks with customers and supporters queuing up to get a slive of the meatball action.

“We weren’t particulary surprised,” says Gareth. “We were always hoping for that level of support. We run an inclusive business which aims to engage very much with our customers - it is all about the experience.”

“It also means we now have 200 brand ambassadors,” continues David.

It is clear that the pair work well together, while keeping the relationship very professional whie at work.

“There are a lot of benefits of working together,” says Gareth. “ We haven’t argued once and I think you can be a lot more honest without worrying about upsetting each other.”

Roy and Will Richardson, Holiday at Home

Will Richardson joined his father Roy’s luxury holiday North Yorkshire rental company in 2012.

Roy started Holidays at Home in 2008, just as the recession hit. But the family run company’s luxury holiday cottages and luxury lodges were much in demand, as people chose to stay at home rather than travel abroad.

Will started working for his dad in the holidays as way of earning a bit of extra cash to help fund his studies.

But as he became more involved in all aspects of the business he decided to make it his career.

“It had never really been my plan to join the family business,” says Will. “It just happened.”

However Roy was determined their woul dbe no accusation of nepotism and Will has had to work his way up through the ranks to gain valuable experience in all aspects of the company. He has recently taken over the role of General Manager, where he continues to grow the business under the Holiday at Home umbrella.