The new café in Hanley Park’s pavilion building has officially opened to the public – marking a major milestone in the National Lottery supported multi-million pound restoration of the 60-acre site.
Named The Pavilion and operated by company Caterleisure, the café will be open seven days a week and has 74 seats both indoor and on the veranda. To the café is serving a range of grab-and-go snacks including sandwiches, filled rolls, cakes, muffins, fruit and hot and cold drinks. Shortly it will add two set menus to its offer, selling freshly prepared breakfast and hot and cold lunch dishes, from oatcakes to burgers and pizzas.
Ten permanent jobs have been created with the opening of the café, which is the flagship product of the 123-year-old park’s restoration. The work to the pavilion has seen the complete restoration to the interior and exterior of the building including repair work to the roof, windows, brickwork and clock tower, installing new toilets and improving access.
The pavilion, which had become derelict since closing in 2004, is one of a number of the park’s main historic features and elements to be revamped and brought back to life after Stoke-on-Trent City Council successfully bid for £4.5 million of National Lottery funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund in 2015. The city council has been responsible for managing the restoration project over the last four years.
Louise Hodgson, development director at Caterleisure,said: “We’re delighted to be able to finally open in such a wonderful building and welcome all our new customers to the café. We feel the cafe will be a great facility to a wonderful community park which has undergone an incredible transformation in the last few years and is looking fantastic. We want to become a destination cafe and be at the heart of the park as it enters a really new and exciting chapter in its history. Once fully operational, customers will be able to enjoy a range of classic menu choices throughout the day including breakfasts, homemade pizzas, British beef burgers, sourdough toasties, grab and go sandwiches and healthy snacking options. There will also be a selection of vegetarian options, as well as traditional cakes, pastries and muffins. We also have afternoon tea choices and a choice of children’s food for families visiting the park, as well as ice cream.”
The cafe will open from 9am to 5.30pm in the spring and summer, with flexible times to accommodate good weather. In winter and autumn the cafe will open from 9am to 4.30pm, and from 8.30am on Saturdays throughout the year to accommodate the Hanley parkrun. It has two side rooms with up to 12 seats that can be closed off and used for private hire and meetings. The cafe will also have a state-of-the-art Changing Places disabled-friendly toilet.
Cllr Carl Edwards, cabinet member for environment at the city council, said: “It’s been fantastic to see the park coming back to life and having so many of its historic features beautifully restored. The transformation of the pavilion – from a boarded up building to this fantastic, stylish café in the heart of the park – has blown me away, and I’m sure it will have the same impact on people when they see it. Having a café of this standard where people can meet up, have a drink or something to eat and enjoy themselves will take the park up another level. It has made the park a destination now and I would encourage people to come and see for themselves how good it is. It’s not just a fantastic café for the park but it’s a new, high-quality food and drink venue for the city as a whole.
“Having quality green space and leisure facilities is vitally important to supporting the health and wellbeing of our residents and that theme has been at the centre of all the work that has taken place in the park. We want to encourage more people to visit the park and spend longer in the park which will boost the venue as a whole, and the cafe is a big step in that direction. Hanley Park is one of the city’s oldest and most historic parks, and this is another example of how we are working hard to protect and appreciate our heritage. I’d like to personally thank everyone who has been involved in the project for the fantastic work they have done to date.”
Anne Jenkins, Director Midlands and East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, Hanley Park is undergoing a fantastic transformation which will give this important green space an exciting future with heritage and communities at its heart.”
Caterleisure will also from Easter be opening the boathouse and former bowls pavilion, near to the children’s play area, which have both been restored as part of the park’s makeover. The Boathouse will open at weekends serving traditional afternoon tea overlooking the lake and will be available for hire throughout the year. The kiosk next to the children’s play area will be known as the Ice Hut and will sell ice cream, confectionary and hot and cold drinks in the summer months.
Hanley Park is one of the UK’s largest Victorian public parks. It was the first public park commission of the well-known landscape designer Thomas Mawson, and opened in 1897 as a much-needed antidote to the poor working conditions of the potters and minors in the district. Improvements carried out at the Grade II listed park as part of the restoration have also included restoring the terracotta Hammersley Fountain, repairing canal bridges, fences, gating and footpaths, and restoring the bandstand. Two lodges at each park entrance have also been restored and will be commercially let out by the council.