The Paddle - PKF Francis Clark
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The Paddle

“Wake up and smell the coffee at The Paddle”


The aroma of freshly brewed coffee pervades the room as Donna Mosley serves delicious pastries to one of her many regulars at The Paddle café and bar in Highcliffe.

Meanwhile, chef husband Harry is busy in the kitchen preparing individually crafted and healthy breakfasts from the comprehensive brunch menu which is based on locally sourced ingredients from a great range of carefully selected suppliers.

This is a typical morning at The Paddle, prominently located on the corner of Waterford Road and the main Lymington Road, as joint proprietors Donna and Harry and their dedicated team go about their daily business.

But The Paddle is so much more than just another eatery. In its six years of existence since Donna (then Darbishire) launched the business as a solo venture in 2013 it has more than doubled in size and now employs 20 people.

It has also become a community hub where locals meet and chat over coffee and cakes and enjoy themed supper club evenings and ‘Woodfired Wednesday’ night pizza specials in the summer.

The award-winning café’s inspiration comes from the couple’s time in Australia and New Zealand – where there is a serious coffee culture – and their desire to reflect the high standards and relaxed atmosphere found in such establishments Down Under.

And with the laid-back environment – the café’s name comes from its surf associations and the name of the implement used in pizza ovens – comes an ethos centred on using local produce to make tasty food from scratch, even to the extent of serving Bournemouth-roasted Badhand Coffee.

The Paddle opens six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday from 8am to 4pm (9am to 3pm on Tuesday and Sunday), serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea.

The mouth-watering, cooked-to-order menu changes regularly with the seasons, from full, veggie or vegan breakfasts, locally made bread and juices and smoothies to a full range of lunchtime meals, super salads and sandwiches – plus a host of daily specials.

There is also a takeaway service – including high street deliveries – and The Paddle is available for private hire. Gift vouchers are also on sale.

Donna, from Barton on Sea, and Harry, who hails from nearby Sopley and has a front of house and kitchen background, have created a marvellous business where they take pride in knowing their regulars personally and even socialising with them.

And, perhaps surprisingly for Highcliffe, their clientele is often made up of young families, although the café is very much all-inclusive.

Harry, with the business full time for four years, said: “We focus on people being relaxed here. We know our regulars really well – some are here every day – and our exceptional front of house staff make everybody feel at home.

Donna and Harry, married for two years and with a lovely daughter Ella, aged 14 months, are set to continue to grow the business organically following the café’s expansion into the Lymington Road frontage in 2015.

PKF Francis Clark has acted for The Paddle for three years and was instrumental in helping the switch to the Xero cloud accounting system three years ago.

The beauty of cloud accounting is that all application functions are performed off-site, which frees businesses from having to install and maintain software.

Donna said: “In the hospitality industry, accounting is a complicated process due to a variety of reasons – many and varied suppliers, a great many invoices, different methods of payment, varying timescales of payment, differing VAT levels and much more.

“I input all the data and look after the bookkeeping side – then submit all the information to PKF Francis Clark who complete the accounts and deal with any queries I might have.

“Our relationship with our accountant is now both closer and more remote. Because of cloud accounting I don’t have to drop into the office for updates, but I always get a very quick and positive response when I contact them, help is always on hand.

“They are really helpful. You certainly need the expertise of such specialists as I neither have the skill sets or time available to finalise our accounts – bookkeeping is one thing, but full accounting is a whole new ball game.”

PKF Francis Clark Senior Manager Aaron Lawes, who leads the team looking after Donna and Harry, said cloud accounting was very much both the present and future for businesses such as The Paddle.

He said: “Advances in technology, more regulatory requirements and a move to open banking – along with till and payment systems, smart phones and tablets becoming more integrated – has led to cloud accounting becoming more standard.

“However, this very technology, allied to changes in the ways taxes are done, VAT returns and bookkeeping, has caused a problem in the sense that small to medium business owners have had to learn a lot very quickly.

“That’s where we step in to relieve the burden. What we did with The Paddle was to initially do a lot of the regular bookkeeping, before Donna took this on and we moved to a more training and advisory role.

“We also log in and check their data, make sure they are staying on track and assist with any queries. The whole process is speeded up and so if Donna emails us one of the PKF Francis Clark team can respond almost immediately.

“We are always there to support them and have a great deal more touch points than in previous years. The process is constantly evolving. It is very much a case of business owners being able to concentrate on running the business while we look after the other, more administrative elements.

“We all get on very well together – we both have young families – and I think it’s fantastic when you can see people like Donna and Harry who are so passionate about their business becoming a real success story. We are glad to have been able to contribute towards their ongoing development.”

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