Cafe plan a glass act

Francesca Simpson (left) and Tonia Schofield at Tonia's Ice Cream kiosk.
Francesca Simpson (left) and Tonia Schofield at Tonia's Ice Cream kiosk.
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VISITORS will be able to scoop themselves a prize view as a gateway to a town is given a revamp.

Plans to transform the popular Tonia’s ice cream hut into a cafe have been approved as Seaham takes steps towards becoming a tourist resort.

The work will give diners panoramic views along the coast and give the tired, ugly block a facelift.

The move will also replace the ageing and unpleasant toilets, which have attracted antisocial behaviour, with lavatories in the cafe and looked after by its staff.

A superloo will continue to operate nearby for out-of-hours use.

The extension of the building, in the car park near to Seaham Hall and off the B1287 Seaham to Ryhope Road, could be complete by Easter under the £250,000 project.

Coralie Niven, heritage coast officer, said: “We’ve been looking at improvements around Seaham and one of them was to address these facilities at that car park.

“We wanted there to be something that offered facilities for everybody and encouraged them in to the car park.

“The toilets will be inside the building rather than accessed from outside and will be available for everybody, not just people who will use the cafe.

“Because it’s in a roadside car park, it’s often the first place people stop or see.

“We hope it will welcome people in to Seaham and we hope tourists will get a good first impression of the town so they will go on an experience it a bit more.”

The ice cream kiosk has been open since 1975, with Tonia Schofield, 54, and daughter Francesca Simpson, 29, looking forward to expanding their business.

They plan to open all year round, which means they will be able to employ about five permanent staff rather than the seasonal workers they have.

They plan to launch a menu which will include sandwiches, chips and a hot cooked meal of the day, along with hot drinks, ices and sundaes.

Tonia, who’s father Ralph Jobes ran a catering firm and was the Ice Cream Alliance’s longest-serving president, said: “It’s going to be unique because of its panoramic views and it’ll be a bit difference to other cafes.”

Francesca added: “It’ll be excellent for our business and it’s exciting for both of us.”