An ambitious cafe boss says he hopes to transform the fortunes of a popular greasy spoon after taking it over and pouring thousands of pounds into the venue.
Gavin Wilson has taken over Pit Stop Cafe, off Philadelphia Lane, in Houghton, and now hopes to ditch the site’s previously poor reputation.
Last year, the eatery was given a zero rating by the Food Standards Agency last year and in a terrifying incident for customers last May, Stewart Ward smashed large windows at the building while he was armed with an axe.
The 35-year-old, of St Matthews Terrace, Newbottle, had targeted the premises because his girlfriend worked there and he stormed in telling her to chose between him and her job.
He was jailed for 14 months.
Mr Wilson, who says he has invested £5,000 to give the site a makeover, told the Echo: “We’ve got the health inspectors in hopefully over the next few days or weeks and we’re hoping to get a four or five rating.
“I know the place has had a bad reputation in the past, but I want people to know how we have turned it around.
“I want customers to be confident in coming here because there’s nothing we serve that I wouldn’t eat myself.”
Mr Wilson added that though he admits the decision to buy the site is a risk, he hopes his experience in the food industry will stand him in good stead.
“I haven’t run a cafe before but I’ve been involved in catering,” he said.
“My granddad used to have a bakery in Newton Aycliffe and I’ve served up food in an industrial estate.
“That was years ago and I decided after a while to go into pharmacy.
“What I’m doing now is a total risk, but I want to be self-employed.
“I’m always up for a challenge.”
Feedback from customers since he took over has been wholly positive said Mr Wilson and he is now urging anyone who hasn’t tried it for a bite to eat to do so.
As well as cooked breakfasts, the cafe also serves up chip butties and burgers as well as cold sandwiches, hot and cold drinks.
“To be honest, 100% of people who’ve come in say they are impressed.
“There are quite a few businesses, but nowhere to eat around here.
“We’ve changed the equipment and are using better quality ingredients although we’ve kept the prices the same.
“We want to launch on Just Eat to do a delivery service if things go well.”