Huge milkshakes and dolphin spotting on the menu at Sunderland institution Bungalow Cafe

Business is booming at Sunderland’s oldest cafe after it reopened post-lockdown.

Friday, 24th July 2020, 2:10 pm

Like all small business owners, the pandemic was a worrying time for the Mcloughlin family who had to close their Bungalow Cafe for three months just at the start of peak season for the Roker site.

The family - mum and dad Theresa and Mick, and daughters Victoria and Kelly – used the time to make some improvements to the historic cafe which dates back more than 110 years.

As well as new flooring, lighting and units, they commissioned street artist Tyler Rutley to create a mural of Roker Pier on the side of the building, which is seen by thousands of passing people each day.

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Landmark site Bungalow Cafe

While their popular all day breakfast menu remains, they added to their offering with colourful milkshakes including varieties made with Millions sweets, Kinder and Aero.

Victoria said: “The full English has always been our best seller, but the milkshakes are almost doing as well. We thought we might be busy the first couple of days after we opened, as people were sick of being indoors, but every day has been non stop. Every day has been like a weekend and we’ve had to take on an extra part-time member of staff to help out.”

She added: “There’s been a lot of interest in the mural, people seem to really like it and it’s really eye-catching.”

As well as the new additions at the cafe, which received a four-star hygiene rating on the most recent inspection, its panoramic windows have made it a popular place for spotting the dolphins that have been playing between the piers recently. So much so, there’s binoculars on the tables so that people can make the most of the view.

The landmark Bungalow Cafe reopens after refurbishment with owner Vicky McLoughlin and the new milkshakes

Social distancing is in place at the cafe, but the owners say that all customers have been respectful of safety restrictions and they’ve not had any problems.

The Mcloughlins have been at the helm of the Bungalow Cafe for the past 14 years and they have a memory book on site with photos of the cafe dating back to the Victorian times.

Victoria said: “We feel so proud to be part of the cafe which is such a part of Sunderland history. Roker’s changed a lot over the years, at one time it was only us and Sue’s Cafe that were at this end, and it was usually Seaburn that was busy but now there’s lots of businesses along here. It’s great to look out of the windows and see so many people and it’s great for business, everyone is very supportive of each other.”

It comes as the Echo is running its #SupportLocal campaign to encourage people to use city businesses.

Dolphins have been spotted off Roker Pier in recent weeks. Photo taken from footage by Donna Louise Hodgson.

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Binoculars are provided so people can make the most of the dolphin spotting

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The new mural by street artist Tyler Rutley
The cafe has been serving Sunderland for more than 100 years
The landmark Bungalow Cafe reopens after refurbishment.
A view from the cafe in times gone by
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