Coffee shop breathes new life into empty Sunderland city centre unit
A coffee shop has breathed new life into a once empty city centre unit.
Coffee @ The Bothy has completely transformed the former Andrew Craig estate agents in John Street into a coffee shop selling drinks, cakes, jacket potatoes, panini and other light bites.
It first opened its doors in March and built up some regulars with its takeout offering. Now, it’s finally been able to welcome people for sit-in coffees after restrictions have been lifted.
Owner Allison Horn, who has created six jobs with her new venture, said: “It’s been great to finally welcome people for sit in, but we also have outdoor seating and I think a lot of people still feel more comfortable using that.”
Allison used to live in Aberdeen where she worked in airport parking, but returned to her home city of Sunderland after she was made redundant due to the pandemic.
"Me and my partner had always spoken about having a coffee shop as I’d previously worked in the bar industry so had experience in hospitality,” she explained. “Lockdown gave us the chance to pursue it and when this unit became available it seemed perfect.”
Allison’s previous life in Scotland is echoed in the name of the coffee shop as bothy is a Scottish colloquialism for a small hut, often in the mountains, in which people shelter from bad weather.
"The name has proved a bit of a talking point and lots of people go home and google it,” she said. “It works really well when you explain it as we want this to be a haven for people where they feel comfortable – plus the weather in Sunderland is just as bad as in Scotland.”
Speaking about the response to the new business so far, Allison said: “We’ve had really good feedback, especially from the coffee which people seem to really like. We get a lot of people coming in from the nearby offices and they seem really pleased something has been done with the site.”
*Coffee @ the Bothy is open Monday to Friday 8am to 4.30pm and from 9am to 4pm on Saturdays.