A derelict bar in West Belfast has been completely transformed, turning a once abandoned building into a fantastic new café and bakery, serving up copious cups of coffee, delicious baked goods and excellent customer service.
Situated directly opposite the entrance to the Royal Victoria Hospital on Grosvenor Road in West Belfast, Loaf Café and Bakery opened its doors on June 16th, after being official unveiled by Mervyn Storey, the Minister for Social Development. Since opening, Loaf Café and Bakery has received an excellent response from customers and is proving to be a real talking point for the local community.
Loaf Café and Bakery is operated by NOW Group, the Northern Ireland Social Enterprise of the Year organisation which supports people with barriers get on the employment ladder. NOW Group operates an accredited training and supported employment programme that works alongside Loaf’s businesses, enabling people with learning difficulties to gain training and work experience in Loaf’s café kitchens.
Speaking to Premier Construction about the creation of Loaf Café and Bakery, Chief Executive of NOW Group, Maeve Monaghan, said:
“This project has been a real labour of love refurbishment for all involved. Before we took over, the building was a burnt out bar, which had remained derelict since 1990. The building would have been a community hub back in its day, so we really wanted to bring that hub back into the community in a more commercial way.”
Loaf Café and Bakery is a two-storey building, with the café and bakery situated on the ground floor and a function room/café spill-over space on the first floor. The ground floor can comfortably accommodate 36 customers, whilst the upstairs space has room for a further 40 customers.
A two-storey extension at the rear of the building has provided Loaf Café and Bakery with a kitchen and sandwich prep area as well as offices and storage space – both vital for the ongoing success of the business.
William Polly Construction was the main contractor on Loaf Café and Bakery, whilst David Maxwell was the architect. The interior design work was provided by Gerry-Can Design.
Speaking about the success of the project, Maeve said:
“The team were excellent. This was my first ever build so it was a real learning curve for me, but the only real issue we had was due to derelict state of the building. We were unable to salvage some parts of the building, which we had originally planned to use, so it became a major refurb rather than a simple tidy up.”
“Everyone really pulled out all the stops to get the building ready.”
The opening of Loaf Café and Bakery is extremely important to Maeve and her team at NOW Group; she said:
“This is a game-changer for us and for two very good reasons. We have never owned a building before, so to have an asset as beautiful as this is fantastic for us and is great for increasing our profile too. Secondly, we’re trading in a good spot, with a good footfall, and the more money that we can make means the more money we can put into helping people with learning disabilities.”
Loaf Café and Bakery is open six days a week; Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm and Saturday 9am until 3pm.
For further information about Loaf Café and Bakery or Now Group, please visit: www.nowproject.co.uk.