Claypole mums have opened their own coffee shop The Side House on Main Street
Two busy mums who had a dream of opening their own coffee shop have finally achieved that ambition — right in the heart of their own village
Friends Suzanne Stapleton and Kate Sharp, who both live in Claypole, have seven daughters between them, so their lives were already pretty full — but they both longed to have their own coffee shop.
Just over a month ago their dream came true when they opened The Side House, on Main Street in the centre of the village.
The Side House is aptly-named. It is attached to the village hall, and used to be the caretaker’s house, but for many years had been used for storage.
The two-up two-down house was messy, dirty and damp, with plaster peeling off the walls and filthy carpets covering the floors.
But a year of hard work by Suzanne and Kate and their families has transformed the building into a cosy coffee shop that is already proving a hit in the village and further afield.
Downstairs houses a kitchen and another room with a counter full of home-made cakes, while the two upstairs rooms have been turned into two more seating areas.
Claypole Village Hall is run by a committee and Suzanne and Kate have worked closely with it for a couple of years to get their project off the ground.
Committee chairman Claire Simmonds was a huge help, and has been a regular visitor since The Side House opened.
By renting The Side House, Suzanne and Kate are providing an income for the hall, as well as giving themselves the perfect location for their coffee shop.
Being attached to the hall means they can also provide catering for hall events, bringing them business and giving the hall an extra facility to offer its users.
Over the past year, the house has been stripped, scrubbed, pointed, painted and lovingly furnished to create a look that is both cosy and contemporary.
Exposed brickwork, bare floorboards and original fireplaces are now set off by white walls, wooden tables and chairs, and industrial-style lighting, all softened with cushions and fairy lights.
Suzanne’s husband Patrick and Kate’s husband’s Jason have done a huge amount of the work — with the children pitching in too.
Although they don’t own the building, Suzanne and Kate said they had all been prepared to put in the work to renovate it because they knew exactly what they wanted, and the hall committee would not have been able to afford it.
“It has been a labour of love for all of us,” Suzanne said.
Sometimes they thought it would never be done, but knew they couldn’t give up.
“It is so perfect here,” she said.
An outdoor seating area is planned for the summer, overlooking a garden. Cycle racks are also in the pipeline.
Although the original plan was for The Side House to serve mainly coffee and cake, Suzanne and Kate quickly expanded the menu to include sandwiches, panini, home-made soup, salads, platters, and jacket potatoes.
There’s a breakfast menu with everything from porridge to pancakes — and of course the traditional full English.
Drinks include a good range of tea and coffees, plus luxurious milkshakes and healthy smoothies. Special dietary requirement are also catered for.
Customers can eat in or take away — and The Side House already has regulars who pop in to collect lunch or breakfast. There have also been breakfast meetings, private parties, and family get-togethers.
Both Suzanne and Kate aim to run The Side House in as environmentally-friendly a way as possible, encouraging re-usable cups and as little waste as possible.A loyalty card rewards regulars, with double stamps if they bring their own cups.
Suzanne and Kate hope The Side House will become somewhere where anyone of any age can feel at home.