Two friends have fulfilled a lifelong ambition of running their own business together after spending more than 35 years creating the perfect recipe for their dream café.

Joanne Potter and Clare Griffiths launched Worsbrough-based Wheels & Walkers in September 2020. The opening of the pet-friendly café was something of a dream come true for the former chefs, who first began cooking up plans to run their own business when they studied at Barnsley College back in 1987.

After graduating, the pair decided to put their idea of running their own café on hold, and with jobs in high demand, they went their separate ways. Clare built a successful career working in a number of hospitals and schools, whilst Joanne worked as a chef at the busy catering department at Barnsley Metrodome before going full circle when she found herself working back at Barnsley College’s Crumbs Cafe, where she supported children with special needs. Before they knew it, 35 years had passed, and it seemed as if those teenage dreams of running their own business would never come to fruition.

Fate, however, would deal the duo another hand. When they discovered that premises situated close to Worsborough Country Park were about to become available, they decided to act on those long forgotten teenage dreams and transform the empty premises into their dream business.

With 70 years of catering experience between them, they knew the day-to-day tasks of running a café were a piece of cake, but they were also aware that running a business required much more than serving up a sensational meal, including being able to balance the books, finding customers and keeping on top of their legal and health and safety duties. Unsure where to start, Joanne and Clare reached out to Launchpad for help.

Support came in the form of experienced business adviser Nicole Harte, who helped Joanne and Clare to transform their dream business into a reality. Through the unique business support programme, Clare and Joanne took part in a series of workshops, helping them to blend their ideas into their carefully thought-out business plan.

The support they received allowed the new entrepreneurs to launch Wheels & Walkers Café, and since it opened its doors in September, the cosy café has quickly established itself as an important focal point for walkers, cyclists, friends and family to come together, enjoy rambles through the country park and catch up over a homely meal and well-earned cup of coffee. Having realised their lifelong dream, both Joanne and Clare are hoping to grow their business further and recruit new members of staff.

Joanne said: “We’d always dreamed of running our own business, but as the years rolled by, we felt we were destined to miss out. That changed when my father sadly passed away a couple of years ago. It made me realise just how important it was to seize opportunities, and when the opportunity arose to build a business in an area where I’ve lived for much of my life, I realised it was a now or never moment, and it was time to make those dreams a reality.

One of the reasons we’d held off running our business was a fear of failure. Losing my father made me question lots of things, and I decided that I’d rather try and fail than never try at all. When our dream premises became available, we signed on the dotted line and began to put the plans we’d been making for more than 35 years into action. The only trouble was that neither of us had run a business before and we didn’t really know where to start, so we decided to reach out to the Launchpad team for some help and advice.

Nicole helped to understand what it would take to build and run our own business. We’ve both also taken part in a number of workshops, which has helped us to gain a much better understanding of our new roles as business owners. Since working with Nicole and the Launchpad team, we’ve never looked back. The support we’ve received from Launchpad has helped us throughout our business journey, and one of the best things about the programme is that nothing is too much trouble and support is only a phone call away.”

Nicole said: “It was clear from the start that Joanne and Clare had been considering the idea of owning their own business for a long time. Both were very experienced in their industry, but they recognised that running a business can often be very different to working in a business, and it’s great to see that the many years they spent together, planning, deliberating and agonising over whether running their own business was the right thing to do are paying off.

Launching a new business can be a steep learning curve, and Launchpad was created to help both new business owners and entrepreneurs planning for growth to access the help and support needed to unlock the potential in their ideas, and the success Joanne and Clare have enjoyed to date is a reflection, not only of their skills in the kitchen, but of the hard work they put in learning how to build and run their business from scratch, and I’m confident Wheels & Walkers has a bright future ahead.”

Launchpad is the Sheffield City Region’s key business support programme for new businesses. Financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within the Sheffield City Region and the Prince’s Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs in the Sheffield City Region who are thinking of starting their own business or looking for help to achieve business growth. Further information can be found at