Sunderland's iconic Roker Pie Shop transformed into new cafe serving sarnies and sundaes

Sisters born and bred in Roker have transformed its former famous pie shop into a family-friendly cafe for the community.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 4:00 pm

Over the decades it’s estimated that the beloved Roker Pie Shop, which was a match day institution in the days of Roker Park, sold more than a million pies – often through its hatch at the rear of its shop.

It served up its final pie last summer and sisters Paula Whellans and Debra Bamborough took over the well-known site in Roker Baths Road and spent around £35,000 completely transforming it into Sarnies & Sundaes.

The new cafe for sit-in or take away, which seats around 22, is unrecognisable from its former guise with its cake and ice cream counter and retro tea shop decor.

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Sisters Paula Whellans (left) and Deb Bamborough outside Sundaes and Sarnies
Sisters Paula Whellans (left) and Deb Bamborough outside Sundaes and Sarnies

The sisters have been renovating the site since they got the keys last August and say there’s been plenty of interest in their new venture.

Debra, who also owns nearby salon, Show Off Hair & Beauty, said: “It’s such a well-known site with a lot of history and memories and a lot of people have been passing and asking us what we’re going to be doing here.

“Although it was well-known, however, there wasn’t as much trade as there used to be. It was sad to see the pie shop go, but the demand just wasn’t there anymore and we wanted to create something to meet the needs of the community.”

She added: “We are born and bred in Roker so we know what’s missing here. It’s a real family area with two schools nearby and we wanted to create somewhere people can bring their kids after school.

Some of the kitsch details at Sarnies & Sundaes

“Although there’s other businesses around here, the area’s been lacking a coffee shop.

“Sea Road and the seafront are our nearest competitors so it’s also a place people can come in for a coffee or tea. So far the response has been really positive and people are saying it’s just what Roker needs.”

The cafe will be open seven days a week selling a range of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and salads and sundaes which are named after the sisters’ family members, such as Betty Banoffee and Stevie Strawberry.

Cakes and cheesecakes made by local bakery All About The Cake are also available, as well as children’s ice cream parties.

The new cafe in Roker Baths Road

Although the site has been transformed, the well-known hatch is still there and The Fans Museum have the Roker Pie Shop sign.

Paula Whellans who co-owns the business
Deb Bamborough at the counter at Sarnies & Sundaes
The site during its time as Roker Pie Shop
The former pie shop storage area now has seating
The interior has been completely revamped