Popular restaurant 'reinvented' by hard-working couple
ASHLEE Jones and Matthew James not only run a thriving restaurant and farm, they do it sustainably.
Since re-inventing Eltham Valley Pantry into a cute gift shop and popular restaurant three years ago, the couple have utilised their picturesque pecan orchard by starting up one of the largest pecan processing facilitates on the Northern Rivers, Barefoot Farm Byron Hinterland.
"It feels fantastic to be in this place and like a lot of hard work has paid off," Miss Jones said.
"We have grown our restaurant staff from three to 11 and as of yesterday we started trading seven days a week for breakfast and lunch.
"So far our regulars have been so supportive so it feels like we are doing the right thing.
"Our staff wanted more hours and that's a beautiful place to be ... when your staff want to work more."
Miss Jones said incorporating their harvest of pecans from their 300 pecan trees into the restaurant's menu was a no-brainer.
"For us, we wanted to use our fine dining background and really push the boundaries of how people ate pecans and why they eat pecans," she said.
"We use pecan in sweets, savoury and in ways people don't expect ... the whole emphasis is to showcase the produce we produce."
She put the success of the couple's businesses down to the support of their team.
"Matthew and myself are very dedicated, hard-working and we also make a great team.
"We've well and truly settled into the community and built up their trust now too which is lovely."
Miss Jones said running their businesses sustainably was a big priority for the couple.
"For us it's managing having a restaurant in an ecological way on a landscape that you take responsibility for," she said.
"We set up a 30kw solar system, we are on-site septic, we do our compost, we recycle.
"We have also done extensive regeneration and re vegetation of the Wilson River Creek bank on the property."
She revealed the health benefits and nutrition value of the elusive pecan.
"There's been a great scientific and peer reviewed study released in the last two week which reveals that pecans have the highest source of antioxidants value of all nuts, full stop," she said.
"They are packed with goodness and are a really great source of protein, omega 3, 6 and 9, calcium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E and really low saturated fats. They are an undervalued nut."