The doors may have closed on one of Harrogate’s best known independent grocer’s last year after nearly a century of history but new life has been given to Leng’s.
The famous spot at 36 Cold Bath Road is now owned by husband-and-wife team Peter and Tracey Woolrich who have reopened it as adeli come general store come café.
Called Cold Bath Deli, in renovating the premises the couple became archaeological detectives by accident, delving deep into the shop’s Victorian roots.
What started out as a minor refurb ishment ended up becoming a four-month long project
Peter said: “We began by ripping down the suspended ceiling.
“The more we went at it, literally with hammers and tongs the more we uncovered treasures from the past, including original coving round the 14-foot-high ceiling.
“We also discovered the name of the original Victorian shop, which was Wheatley’s, written in mosaic floor tiles in front of what was then the entrance.”
First established in 1923, Leng’s greengrocers went through several owners down the decades and also many changes before closing for the last time on Wednesday, September 27, 2017.
Among the owners in the past were Peter and Mary Schofield and, most recently, Robert and Carolyn Newsome.
What Leng’s offered to customers also evolved. It moved with the times but it always remained a part of the community, often supporting local campaigns.
The recently-opened Cold Bath Deli shows influences of the couple’s own backgrounds, Peter’s in the Far East as an investigative journalist and Tracey’s as a chef in Australia, though she hails from Key West in Florida, orginginally.
Peter said: “The last business we had was a French café by day and restaurant by evening which was voted by Top Table users as one of the top 200 restaurants in the UK
“Our aim was to be quirky when it came to the look and feel of the place and deliciously different when it comes to the food.
"At the moment, we're essentially a take away food and coffee business but have some tables and chairs that are proving especially popular at lunchtime. We try and do everything with a twist.”
Locally-sourced produce shares space with Middle Eastern spaces, charcuterie and meze plates, so far, Peter says, things are looking good for Cold Bath Deli.
He said: “We Cold Bath Road so much we moved round the corner and wanted to become part of the nicest community we’ve ever lived in."
Other discoveries during the renovation of Leng's former location included uncovering the original white and green wall tiles distinctive of the period when the shop sold not only fruit and veg but game, as well as being a fishmongers.
The new owners have even retained the hook bars on which rabbits and pheasants were hung.
They also worked on the back room which had previously been used for cold storage, exposing a window and a fireplace along the way.
The transformation of this Harrogate institution has been remarkable, says Peter.
"We opened two months behind schedule but since when we've had to pick several jaws up off the ground when people have walked in. The most often heard reaction is 'wow'.
"Cold Bath Road is gaining a reputation for being a thriving independent food destination and in the future we aim to serve an evening menu. We also hope to have outside seating for when the weather warms up, assuming it does."