This week for our “my business story” interview series, we enjoyed meeting Tessa Lidstone from BOX-E. BOX-E is a restaurant in CARGO, Wapping Wharf serving produce-led, seasonal, modern British food. Chef Elliott is passionate about letting beautiful ingredients shine so that has become the focus for BOX-E.
What do you love about Bristol? And what do you love about your job?
I’m from Bristol, I moved away for over a decade but was drawn back to the city and am now Bedminster based. I love just how much is on offer for a city of this size. There’s plenty to do but it’s still easy to get about and it doesn’t take an hour to get to another part of town to meet up with friends. Everyone kind of knows everyone too… which can have its downsides as well as its upsides, but the interaction with so many different people is definitely my favourite part of my job.
How did you start your business?
It was something we (Tessa and chef Elliott) had always talked about doing. And then one day we just stopped talking and started doing. It took a huge leap of faith as the entire risk was on us, but if you can ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?” and feel comfortable with the answer, then it’s worth doing. You only live once, after all.
How do you keep it going?
Hard work! Ha! I wish I could reveal some sort of magic but it’s just a lot of work and a lot of love. You’ve got to believe in what you’re doing to keep going.
What’s your favourite thing about running an independent business?
You are the decision maker. There is no head office to run ideas by or anything like that. If you want to do something, then only you can stop yourself. I love how supportive so many Bristolians are towards independent businesses too.
What are the challenges?
You’re very much a little fish in a big pond but big isn’t always better and other small independent business can be your support network.
What made you sign up to accept Bristol Pounds? What do you like about the scheme?
We have always accepted the notes, but it was only when I realised that some of our lovely suppliers (hello Stream Farm! [£B], hello Psychopomp! [£B]) were members that it made sense for us to accept electronic payments too. Our mentality is very much about supporting local producers and the scheme puts that into fruition.
Where do you spend your Bristol Pounds?
If I had some notes spare, I’d buy an amazing bottle of ice cider from the Bristol Cider Shop [£B] underneath us in Cargo1. I also love the toasted and buttered choc chip banana bread from Little Victories [£B] – my far too regular guilty pleasure!
What are your favourite places/shops/restaurants/etc in Bristol and why?
Ashton Court – I grew up with it on my doorstep and I have to take a little sideways glance towards it when I cross Gaol Ferry Bridge (multiple times a day), just to reassure myself it’s still there!
Somewhat related, I have to say hot air balloons. It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen hundreds of the things, hearing their burners still gets me excited. Having them fly over our restaurant terrace has only increased my passion. I am a huge Bristol Ferry [£B] fan too, classic Bristol.
I love cheese so for an immersive shopping experience it has to be Rosie’s gem of a container – the Bristol Cheesemonger. We recently had a superb Sunday afternoon of beer and cheese at Two Belly and I can’t recommend them enough either.
If you have children in your life who love bombing about on scooters then Campus Pool is amazing, especially for rainy days. They do a decent coffee too.
For an all-out treat then I would be incredibly happy perched at the kitchen table at Paco Tapas. But you would also make my day if you took me for roast at The Cauldron and a wander to see the pigs at St Werburghs Farm [£B].
Find BOX-E online via the following links:
Thank you Tessa!