New Harrogate cafe opens with a smile and spirit of a 'community hub'
The owner of a new friendly neighbourhood cafe in Harrogate which took the brave decision to open during lockdown says she hopes it will act as a 'hub of the community'.
Proudly acting as a Sicilian coffee shop selling delicious cakes, cannolis, ice cream and milkshakes, Cafe Lolas owner Lola Spencer said she had been a little nervous opening - especially as this is the first time she has run a business.
Lola said: "I have to admit I was a bit nervous because this was my first time running a business. My background is far away from the land of coffee and cakes.
"For a start, I had to learn how to use the barista machine which was difficult at first, but I soon got the hang of it after been trained.
"Overall, I was a bit apprehensive because of the Covid restrictions but I felt it needed to be done to serve in the community and to start bringing some kind of normality back for people."
Located in Harrogate's Kings Quarter, Cafe Lolas' enthusiastic owner, who moved to Harrogate from York last November, has always had a busy life.
After successfully gaining a BA honours degree in youth and community development and a foundation degree is Theology and Christian studies, Lola worked for many years in community development and child protection, as well as with several churches - and she still retains an interest in those areas of life.
Lola said her mission was not just to serve people cake and coffee but also to serve up some much-needed support.
In particular, she hopes her new cafe could help lift the spirits of people struggling during the last 15 months of the pandemic and lockdown.
She said: "Through working in the coffee shop I have already noticed the effects Covid restrictions have had on people.
"I am seeing firsthand the effects lockdown is having on all peoples lives, from babies to the elderly. It’s very sad.
"As we are coming out of the restrictions I feel there’s such a need for people needing support especially with mental health issues and loneliness."
So far the welcome of local residents and neighbouring shop owners has been incredible, Lola said.
"The welcome I have had from the local community as been great. I have already got lots of regulars.
"Other business around me have been great and very welcoming. I often sign post people who are looking for hot food to the other local business near me.
"I feel it’s important to work together in supporting the community.
"I have had several young people approach me for training and work and at the moment I have a few young people between who I am training right now."
Lola's intention, once she has won permission, is to start up different groups helping people with anything from mental health problems to just a friendly ear.
To begin with, she is looking at starting a women’s support group very soon mid week, monthly on an evening.
She said: "Being a friendly coffee shop owner with good customer service is key to bringing sunshine peoples lives."
"It's a place to feel welcomed and a hub for the community, hopefully.
"When you look through the window at Cafe Lolas from outside you will see people enjoying cakes cannolis coffees and milkshakes in a nice relaxing environment..
"But I hope the cafe can be more than that.
"Cafe Lolas is not just a coffee shop it’s a hub for the community. I’m on a mission a mission to bring some smiles to people’s lives."
One day soon Lola hopes to be able to open on Friday and Saturday evening enjoying some great background music and making new friends.
Cafe Lolas is located at 120 King's Road, Harrogate and is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm.
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