A former steelworker and his long-term partner have opened up a swish new wine bar in Redcar with help from the SSI Task Force.
Gerry Morrison, 52, and Joanne Adams, 45, have set up the intimate, classy No 5 Cocktail and Wine Bar on Station Road in Redcar’s buoyant ‘Northern Quarter.’
The Redcar couple, whose son, Callum, 23, was also an SSI worker and lost his job at the same time, received funding from the Business Advice Start Up Fund as well as investing their own money.
The bar is a former shop that had been empty since June 2016.
Joanne explained that she was also worried about her job as a charity worker at the time of the SSI crisis in late 2015.
“We were waiting to see week by week if we were all going be made redundant,” remembered Joanne.
“It wasn’t easy. And it had happened once before. I ran Joe’s Sandwich Shop near the steelworks for five years. Most of the trade was from the steelworks but when it closed the first time, in 2010, we lost that business too.”
After the closure in 2015, Joanne became bar manager at the Rushpool Hall Hotel at Skelton and Callum started a new career as a marine engineer in the Royal Navy.
Gerry, originally from Glasgow, explained he had worked at SSI for five years before its closure and had previously worked at ICI.
“It’s been a really busy time,” he said. “Our daughter, Amber, has just had a baby and we had to really concentrate on our big opening night at the same time as we were waiting for the birth.
“But we have done this kind of thing before and have good experience. Years ago we would both sometimes run Joanne’s sister’s pubs when she was away and Joanne has a lot of experience in the industry.
“This part of town is coming back to life with cafés, pubs and restaurants and it’s exciting to be part of it.”
So far 248 new businesses have been started with help from the SSI Task Force funds, and both Gerry and Joanne were full of praise for the help they had received.
“It’s not just the financial backing, although that is amazing,” explained Joanne. “It’s the help given in the business plan and administration. The team is so supportive and knowledgeable.”
Amanda Skelton, Chair of the SSI Task Force, said: “It is fantastic that Gerry and Joanne are launching a business and I’m sure it will be a great success.
“I’m especially pleased that they have been able to turn an empty shop in the town centre into a vibrant new venture, which just adds to the great visitor offer in Redcar.”
Links to all the SSI Task Force funds, including eligibility and how to apply, can be found at www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk/taskforce