By Anthony Fletcher, contributing editor
Published on 09 May, 2013
About 10 years ago, Andy Knowles was becoming fed up with his job in Cardiff. He missed his home county of Pembrokeshire, on the southwest tip of Wales, and so he and his wife decided to move back home with no fixed plan.
A chance encounter with a café owner one day led to him becoming the proprietor of the Quayside, a modest-sized establishment overlooking the bay at Lawrenny village. He opened for business in 2004. “I really had no idea what to do,” he recalls. “I’m not from a catering background, so I had to find my own way. One thing I learned pretty quickly though — it’s a hard business.”
For the first few years, the Quayside barely broke even, and there were inevitable worries that the business would go bust. But Knowles persevered and business began to pick up. “The best advert in the world is word of mouth,” says Knowles. “It is so strong. As they say, it takes 10 years to build a reputation, and 10 minutes to lose it!”
The Pembrokeshire peninsula is bordered on three sides by the sea. It is perhaps most famous for its Coast National Park, within which the Quayside is located. “We are right on the water,” says Knowles. “If this hadn’t worked out, I reckon I would have become a professional fisherman. Pembrokeshire offers some fantastic shellfish, but there isn’t a great amount of people making full use of this; lots of shellfish is exported to France or Spain, which I think is a shame.”
Knowles sources all his fish locally. “I know a fisherman who catches crab and he and his wife pick the meat by hand. I buy from him; in fact, he’s my main supplier, and we’ve kind of grown together. I get my fish straight from the boat, it’s just how I like to do things.”