At the Marram Grass in Anglesey, brothers Liam and Ellis Barrie have turned a greasy spoon on a caravan park into a thriving restaurant with a growing reputation for excellent food. Neil Gerrard went to visit
Doing their best not to squint in the sunshine of a beautiful Anglesey morning, Liam and Ellis Barrie are trying (and only partially succeeding) to remain composed as the photographer shoots them in front of the entrance to their restaurant, the Marram Grass.
"Ow, what was that?!" exclaims Liam as he leaps in the air with surprise, just as the photographer tries pressing the shutter once again. It turns out his younger brother has poked him with a nail he found on the floor, before letting out a long, infectious chuckle that's a feature of any conversation with him.
Both under 30 (Liam is 29, Ellis is 27), the pair display the sort of youthful exuberance that you'd expect from brothers of that age. Where they differ is that, between them, they have developed what is one of Wales's most exciting young restaurant businesses in what could be argued is a pretty unlikely location.
None of it was really part of the plan. Liam and Ellis's parents moved from their native Liverpool in 2009 to open a caravan park on the island across the Menai Strait from Caernarfon as their retirement project.
At the time, Ellis was in Australia, after a year working at the Panoramic 34 in Liverpool. Liam was already a trained surveyor and looking for jobs in Liverpool and Manchester. While he searched, he agreed to help his parents with work that needed doing on the caravan park.
With the caravan park came a small greasy spoon on the site, designed to cater for hungry campers. It was little more than a cupboard at the time, sharing the smallish, low building in which it sat with a toilet and shower block.
"It was packed full of frozen Tesco lasagnes and burgers," recalls Liam of the scene that confronted him when they first took over.
"When I came back from Australia in June that year, me mam had just been buying lasagnes from Tesco because that's what the previous owners had been doing, and she had never run a restaurant," Ellis adds. "They were buying lasagnes for £1 and selling them for £4."
"I don't think it was even £4. It was about £3.50," Liam interjects. "It was like: ‘Yes! We took £20 today!'"