Pembrokeshire has long been synonymous with outstanding
food and home-grown produce.
The County boasts an extensive dairy farming sector and miles of coastline providing restaurants and families with the freshest fish, together with a wealth of local independent creatives who continue to transform Pembrokeshire’s quality ingredients into stylish, exciting dishes.
Pembrokeshire knows its food.
However, one woman’s determination to make a long-held dream come true and a phone call to Pembrokeshire County Council has provided the County with a something of a game-changer: Y Gegin has arrived.
Co-creator, Michelle Evans takes up the story:
‘I used to be a divorce lawyer but I dreamt of having my own business and creating good food from locally-reared and sourced ingredients. Once I took the plunge, bought a smallholding, launched Paternoster Farm and opened my beach hut, the idea of a food hall came quite quickly. I wanted a ‘bricks and mortar’ setting to showcase what Pembrokeshire has to offer.’
Together with friends, Jody Bell and Rhiannon Morgan-Bell, owners of local street food purveyors, Cwlbox, the newly formed team looked for somewhere they could bring their proposal.
‘In short, we wanted to create somewhere that I would want to visit, an attractive space where people of all ages would come together and explore tastes and dishes from around our County.’
Identifying the old Market Hall in Pembroke Dock, Michelle called Pembrokeshire County Council, more in hope than anything else;
‘We had spoken to private landlords and hadn’t had much success in finding a suitable location. While the Market Hall was the perfect space, we were unsure of the response we’d get from the Authority.’
Instead, PCC were receptive and equally excited about the idea.
‘Y Gegin have been the driving force for this project but as a Council, we saw this prospect as a chance to support local businesses being brave and trying something different,' says Rachel Moxey, Head of Regeneration. ‘From the beginning this has been a superb example of what can be achieved in Pembrokeshire and we have been delighted by how things have progressed, particularly with the public’s response since Y Gegin opened in early June.’
What has been created is a triumph: Y Gegin comprises 6,000 square feet of historical Market Hall – where Buffalo Bill himself stabled his horses in 1904 – transformed into a cool, contemporary, and stylishly shabby-chic eatery that is delighting its increasing wave of customers, be they tourists or locals.
‘The response was incredible, says Michelle, ‘on our first weekend, we sold out of fresh produce! We couldn’t believe it’.
Joining Cwlbox and Paternoster Farm at the Market are Bubbling Cauldrons, Conti’s Ice Cream and Tenby Brewing Co., together with Rocky Bees, a pastry chef from Tenby, creating a dream team of specialists and flavours – and a wondrous scent drifting out into the courtyard – drawing the curious and the hungry to sample the local eats prepared and cooked on site. Not only has Y Gegin provided wonderful food, it has created jobs and specialist training.
‘We’ve got some brilliant young people who’ve joined us on this journey,' states Michelle with justifiable pride, ‘and we are really keen for them to continue with us, offering full time positions together with barista and food prep training.’
‘We’ve trialled Y Gegin in June but we’re very keen to continue. The Council were open-minded and forward thinking and importantly, let us take a chance. It has been a great partnership so far!’