The Pavilion Cafe has a new operator who was born and bred in the town.
Judith Hope-Wilson is fully aware how important the facility is for townsfolk and said ‘I had to pinch myself that it was mine’ when preparing to open up this morning. (Tuesday, October 13).
Visitors to the Victorian park have been left without anywhere to enjoy a cuppa and a snack since before the summer after the previous operator, West Yorkshire-based Caterleisure, closed what was previously called the Refresh Pavilion Cafe.
Just as importantly it has meant there have been no toilet facilities at all in the park as the other public convenience at the car park has also been closed since lockdown was introduced in March.
Judith, 45, who is being helped out on a part-time basis by her daughter Amy, said: “The park holds a lot of memories for me from my childhood when you would never really come here without visiting the cafe, whether it was for a juice or an ice cream. It was all part of the experience. I feel so privileged to be working in such a lovely place.
“The closure of the toilets has been a huge issue, especially for parents and their children, and they are open again and are spotlessly clean.”
Judith, married to building contractor Bruce, previously worked in her father’s knitwear business, Eric Hope Knitwear.
The cafe has opened initially on a takeaway-only basis, 9am to 5pm seven days a week, but should be open inside within days.
Judith added: “It has been challenging because I have not been able to get deliveries as quickly as I had hoped and I am waiting for equipment to be delivered. Everything that I will be selling and making will be locally sourced. I’m aware that the prices charged by the previous operator were judged too high and I can say our prices will be as competitive as they can be.
“I have been listening to what people have been telling me and I will be taking feedback from customers.”
Town provost Watson McAteer said: “The cafe is such an important feature of Wilton Lodge Park and to see it once again open for business under the control of a local lady will provide a real boost during these difficult times.”