On New Years Day most of Ballymena was closed. We were really happy to see retailers and businesses around town taking the decision to close and hopefully enjoy the first day of 2016.

But what happens when you want to go to town for coffee or lunch? What happens when you can’t get the lunch you want? ha!

Here’s what we mean…

At the start of December 2015, Middletown Coffee Co. opened in Ballymena and, as well as them wooing us with superb coffee, we also fell in love with their food, especially the chorizo, chickpea, sweet potato and harissa stew. We wanted it on January 1st! We really wanted to eat it! Middletown were closed and deservedly so after a hectic first few weeks of business but… stew! Lovely warming chorizo! yum!

So, we made our own version and added some salmon… just because we could. And it was good. Very good.

This whole process made us wonder if as customers we ask enough questions when we eat in coffee shops and restaurants? In any kind of shop for that matter? Asking what the recipe is, where the coffee comes from or, where the product is made/built/created will certainly reveal if the staff serving you know or care about their job and the product they sell.

In the case of this beautiful stew, we knew how to make it because we had talked about the recipe with the staff at Middletown and, a simple stew with a few fresh ingredients is easy right?

Well yes but, what about next time you buy some shoes in Ballymena, a suit, a new car, a television or some jewellery? Can the person selling give enough info to help you understand what you are spending your money on? They should be able to.

Often the more we spend, the more eager we are to know about the product we are buying but, we think it’s just as important no matter what you are opening your wallet for.

If you own a business, do you and your staff know the product well enough?

It’s important that you do.

Now, go get some of that stew.