Popular business to breathe new life into Sunderland's Winter Gardens cafe

One of the city centre's best-loved independent ventures is set to relocate to a larger site after a crowd-funding campaign.

Monday, 8th January 2018, 2:59 pm
Updated Monday, 8th January 2018, 3:00 pm
Ashley Bell and Joe Collins of Holmeside Coffee at the new site.

Last summer the owners of Holmeside Coffee put out a call for help in moving to a new site after building up a firm following at its base within Independent nightclub in Holmeside.

More than £8,000 was raised through online pledges and now the coffee shop has announced it will take over the former Eden cafe within Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens. Work began this week to renovate the site and give it a Holmeside Coffee makeover before opening at the end of January.

Inside the former Eden cafe ahead of renovations

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Co-owner Joe Collins said the new site, which has its own kitchen, will help them build upon their food offering and increase the business’ seating capacity while also helping to boost the book, film and writers’ groups who meet at the coffee shop.

Joe, who opened Holmeside Coffee in November 2013, said: “Each night we have to take the coffee shop furniture out as the space is used by the nightclub, then put it back again. As the nightclub got bigger, so were we, and the two were clashing so we decided we needed a new space, one that was more accessible for families and one where we could have our own kitchen, instead of just a prep area.

“We’ve taken the business as far as we could within a nightclub setting and it’s not a place everyone wants to come, because it’s dark and can seem intimidating. This new site will have its own entrance on the terrace and we’re hoping it will appeal to a wide range of people.”

Over the years the Winter Gardens cafe has had a number of different identities, including an Italian restaurant, but Joe is hoping this new chapter will help it reach its full potential.

The extra space will boost Holmeside Coffee's offering

“It’s a really nice space overlooking the Winter Gardens and Mowbray Park,” said Joe. “It’s a cultural site and we identify with our cultural activities, with all the groups that meet with us, so us moving in is something that appealed to the museum too. I think when we announced this was the new location people were surprised at first because it’s more of a corporate setting than our last site, but on reflection it’s a massive opportunity to make the most of this space. We’re not losing anything by moving here, but we’re gaining an awful lot. Plus it’s close enough to Holmeside to keep our name.” The original Holmeside Coffee will remain open during renovations.

Inside the former Eden cafe ahead of renovations
The extra space will boost Holmeside Coffee's offering