Dunes cafe at Crimdon beach has welcomed its first customers on Monday.
The new building offers a 40-seat cafe and a community room, as well as accessible public toilets and a baby changing room.
But the dog friendly coffee shop is more than just a place to admire the beautiful sea views while enjoying a hot drink.
It is hoped the cafe – which also serves as a coastal hub – will help people learn more about wildlife in the area, increase volunteers and bring in visitors who could not use the site before.
The project came together after a collaboration between the Heritage Coast Partnership and Durham County Council.
Heritage Coast officer Niall Benson has explained that the site is about enhancing the environment and making the coast more inclusive through the facilities offered at the building.
Niall said: "It’s the start of a new chapter for that site.”
He added: “It’s as low carbon as we can get. There’s an air source heat pump, underfloor heating. It’s got photovoltaic cells on the roof. There’s no gas and there’s no additional heating.
“The toilets only use 10 per cent of the water of a normal toilet.”
The cafe opened on Valentine’s Day this week with a couple being the first customers to walk through the door.
Interim catering manager Kathryn Elliott has said the cafe enjoyed a busy first day with steady business in the days after.
Speaking of the cafe’s very first customers, Kathryn added: "They brought us a good luck card as well, so it was meant to be. We didn’t know them. When they gave us the card, we gave them a bunch of flowers, so it was lovely. You couldn’t have planned it better.”
A range of hot drinks and sandwiches is available, with ice cream to be offered as well during the summer.
The cafe is open seven days a week from 10am until 4pm.
Niall added: “We’re looking forward to welcoming all those people who couldn’t use the site before and to improving the wildlife.”