“IT is never too late” – That is the message from two self-declared “middle-aged” mum’s who now own one of the most popular restaurants in Southend.

The Seafood Shack, in Eastern Esplanade, was opened back in June 2022 by two lifelong friends looking to take on a new venture.

Neither Sandy Van Deventer, 52, or Wendy Church 51, had a background in running a food business or working in hospitality before setting up the Seafood Shack.

Echo: Owners - Sandy Van Deventer and Wendy ChurchOwners - Sandy Van Deventer and Wendy Church (Image: Newsquest)

However, the pair are now the owners of the Seafood Shack, one of the highest rated restaurants in Southend, according to TripAdvisor.

Sandy said: “We are super proud of ourselves, as it has not been plain sailing.

“Like any household with teenage kids and children, it is really difficult to juggle, there is always a bit of mum guilt trying to spread yourself so thinly to please everyone, which is hard and emotionally draining.

“But even though it has been a struggle, we can’t actually believe that ‘little old us’ have created this fantastic, friendly, and welcoming place for all ages along the seafront.

“I think we have shown people that it is never too late. If you work hard and have belief in yourself and drink a lot of wine in between anything is possible.”

But the success didn’t come easy nor straight away after the business was originally launched in Rochford back in 2019 as the pair took over a seafood stall.

Due to the pandemic, and customer demand – they knew it wasn’t going to work and they had to make a change.

So, they decided to take over the current site in Eastern Esplanade and spent more than six months renovating it.

Sandy said: “Once we opened in Southend, we hit the ground running. “People absolutely loved the new look restaurant and atmosphere. We couldn’t believe that we had managed it, considering we had zero experience. The first week was a massive learning curve and extremely exciting for us.

“Within six months, we went straight to Number one on TripAdvisor, out of 230 restaurants.”

After the site’s success, bosses have since spent the last six month expanding the restaurant to create more seating areas.

Sandy added: “We still have a lot of work to do, and we keep reinvesting the money, to ensure we are decorating to a high spec.

“Over the next year or so, we hope to give the front of the restaurant a face lift.

“But it is difficult at the moment, with the extortionate energy bills, crippling VAT and the current climate regarding hospitality as a whole.

“We just have to be patient and do it bit by bit. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

The Seafood Shack has also got a number of plans for Christmas - including a Christmas platter. 

They are also serving a Christmas menu option as well as having a DJ in every Friday throughout December. 

For more details, or how to book, visit the Seafood Shack website or message via their Facebook page.