Restaurateur sets up fresh Manx venture

Jill Forrest and Alastair Hamilton, new owners of the Corn Mill restuarant Mines Road, Laxey

Jill Forrest and Alastair Hamilton, new owners of the Corn Mill restuarant Mines Road, Laxey

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A restaurant is the latest addition to the facilities at Ballacregga Corn Mill, in Laxey – and it is already proving popular with customers.

It was launched earlier this month by engaged couple Jill Forrest and Alastair Hamilton, who, along with Alastair’s son Ewen, are the directors of the business.

Opening reception at the Corn Mill restuarant Mines Road Laxey .'Alastair and Jill with guests at the opening party.

Opening reception at the Corn Mill restuarant Mines Road Laxey .'Alastair and Jill with guests at the opening party.

It joins a ‘gastro cafe’ with outside seating in the courtyard where the emphasis is on good food using Manx produce, which was opened in June.

And there is also a function suite as part of a Laxey Wheel interpretation centre, which is ideal for events such as conferences and weddings.

Its doors have been open all summer to people interested in finding out more about the history of the wheel.

In fact, Alastair explained that at the beginning of the year they were looking for somewhere to hold their own wedding reception in September.

They couldn’t find anywhere suitable and asked Jill’s cousin, Stewart Clague of building services firm SCS, if they could have a marquee at Ballannette.

Instead, Stewart took them to the corn mill, close to Laxey Wheel.

‘Three months later, we ended up running the place,’ Alastair said.

‘It’s quite challenging because I now have to be catering at my own wedding.’

They will marry on the jetty on the lake at the rear of the site on September 7.

And the reception will be held in the function suite.

Alastair was 25 when he had his first restaurant, a converted manor house in the Scottish Highlands, and he’s had another four in Scotland since then.

Originally a chef, he moved to the island in 2010. His son Ewen, aged 27, is a trained fine dining chef.

And Jill is in charge of marketing and promoting the business.

The restaurant has 50 covers and is currently open Wednesday-Saturday evenings, but the couple plan to extend the opening hours.

‘That involves building up the chef team, which will come over time.’

He said: ‘We saw an opportunity to have a good restaurant in this corner of the island.

‘There’s not many places to eat out when you come north of Douglas.’

Alastair said the menu featured ‘the best of Manx produce cooked properly’.

‘It’s the best of what we can get locally and what we can get fresh.

‘If you combine that with good chefs you end up with wonderful food.’

They had decided on a soft opening so they could make sure they had got it right before building up the business – but that didn’t work out as planned.

‘Word of mouth goes round the Isle of Man like wildfire,’ Alastair said.

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