Tears as Sophie's cafe in Hampsthwaite revives village shop near Harrogate

As a girl, Sophie Jacob used to buy sweets at the corner shop, now her decision to rescue it from hibernation has prompted tears of excitement in the village of Hampsthwaite near Harrogate.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 4:45 pm
Reopening - Popular cafe owner Sophie Jacob, back right, with Aly Wheeler and Joyce Lundell who ran the corner shop in Hampsthwaite for more than 30 years.

Tomorrow, Friday will see history come full circle when the business reopens its doors for the first time in four months under the name Sophie's Corner Shop.

Sophie, herself, who has run her own award-winning coffee shop and bistro just across the road on High Street for nearly ten years, said she could not let the village down.

She said: "The owner of the corner shop Joyce came to me two months ago and asked if I would consider running it.

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Outside Sophie's Corner Shop - Sophie Jacob, right, with Aly Wheeler and Joyce Lundell who ran the original corner shop in Hampsthwaite for more than 30 years.

"She had been running it with her husband Jimmy for 35 years but had had to close it in early March as the virus undermined footfall and the business.

"She was very excited when I said yes."

Since the pandemic put Britain into lockdown mode at the end of March, Sophie has carried on baking her own cakes for her popular coffee shop in the middle of Hamspthwaite which lies five miles from Harrogate.

At first it was takeaway only but, since the middle of June, the cafe has reopened properly for customers, blessed, as it it, with fabulous garden space at the back.

Perhaps surprisingly, Sophie is convinced running two businesses at the same time will make her life easier.

She said: "I will carry on doing the baking, especially the big sellers like fruit cake, chocolate cake, Bakewell tart and date and walnut scones.

"But I'm actually hoping to do less now. I've got a rota for the shop but I'm not on it!

"Although the cafe gets good footfall at the weekend, it's not quite the same as before, though the takeaway side of it is really busy.

"We've already got staff on furlough. Rather than make people redundant, they can now do a shift in the shop.

"We've got a great chef at Sophies who is going to make a range of meals such as curries, steak and ale pies and cottage pie to sell in the corner shop."

The shop may be freshly restocked, chef-made meals may be on their way and the shop's front door may have a new name above it but Sophie says she is happy to keep the business the way it has always been since she was a girl.

Sophie said: "I remember I used to love buying sweets and everything in the shop when I was 14 years old.

"It was really well run. The two ladies knew everything about running a good village shop.

"When I told them I had agreed to run the corner shop, they welled up with tears.

"They were so happy."

To mark the occasion tomorrow, Friday, of the opening or, rather, reopening of Sophie's Corner Shop, there was only one person Sophie could possibly ask to cut the ribbon.

Fortunately, Joyce also said 'yes'.

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