Pop-up café turns into lifeline for community
By David Wood
A pop-up café that opened in Cheltenham during the global pandemic a year ago has proved to be a remarkable success story.
The Heritage Café opened on June 22, 2020, as a takeaway, outdoor café under the colonnade at Pittville Pump Room.
It is run and operated by The Cheltenham Trust, open seven days a week, serving hot and cold food and drinks. The café also hosts free, live music at weekends.
It was the first time since the 1930s that there had been a café at the pump room. The pop-up which began with a couple of trestle tables and one barista machine has grown in just one year to become a bespoke all-year-round, permanent operation.
The Heritage Café (and the Garden Bar and Skillicorne Garden café) are now go to destinations, promoting free live music, described by the community as 'lifelines' and visited by more than 220,000 people since summer 2020. Both are now permanent and will continue to develop and grow, providing free community events.
The café opened at a time when meeting outdoors was the only permitted way to meet socially. In that year there's been live music, dance, children's theatre, Father Christmas, carols and Christmas trees, paninis and Pimms, beer and pizza, homemade sausage rolls, breakfast baps and afternoon teas.
More than 220,000 people have visited and the café has served more than 52,000 coffees and 20,000 cakes. Such has been the response from visitors, customers and the community that the outdoor café is now permanent and will continue to grow as a visitor destination.
To thank the community for its continuing support since the café opened, there's a free coffee or cup of tea with every cake bought until Sunday 27 June.
The Cheltenham Trust's CEO Laurie Bell said: "The seed of an idea a year ago has seen the historic pump room venue totally revived and it's now an established visitor destination and has brought this wonderful historic venue back to life. The café has been an unexpected joy and success and is now a year-round permanent fixture."
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