INNOVATIVE plans to open a coffee house inside a cemetery have become a reality and civic chiefs believe it has the right blend for success.
The Hartlepool Borough Council-run Inspirations Coffee House is a key part of the new garden centre development on the site of the existing Stranton Garden Nursery, in Tanfield Road.
The £280,000 scheme has seen the Stranton Cemetery Lodge building, within Stranton Cemetery, transformed into the new coffee house.
It is part of the council’s strategy to generate additional income at a time of Government budget cuts, with further cuts of £20m needed over the next three years.
Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, chairman of the council, officially opened the coffee house.
He said: “This is innovative and it shows that the local authority is thinking outside the box.
“This coffee house is based within the cemetery, but is part of wider plans for the garden centre.
“It means visitors to the cemetery now have a warm and friendly place to go and shelter from the cold and it is quite a comforting place, especially with the pleasant garden area.”
One full-time and five part-time jobs have initially been created, although the council was inundated with applications from over 150 people when the posts were first advertised.
Coun Akers-Belcher added: “The coffee house is called Inspirations and it shows that we as a council are looking at different ways to make income.
“We are doing our best to create much-needed jobs and although it is not a massive amount we are still trying to do our part. This project has also helped bring an empty building back into use.
“The staff are very good at what they do and I wish the coffee house every success.”
For customers who like to grind and prepare coffee at home, Inspirations Coffee House sells coffee beans from across the globe and a range of other products are on sale including teas, iced drinks, cakes, pastries, sandwiches, paninis and seasonal specials.
Karen Oliver, the council’s facilities management manager, said: “We have recruited a talented and enthusiastic team of staff which shares our vision and passion for providing a top-quality service that aims to be second to none in Hartlepool.
“Customer satisfaction is important to us, and we acknowledge that this will only be achieved through excellent customer service.”
Following the opening of Inspirations Coffee House, further phases of the re-development scheme will include a new Inspirations Garden Centre shop and a series of “inspirational gardens” which will be regularly refreshed and used to showcase the garden centre’s products.
A new car park has been created for customers.
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