Kuehne June 2019

A Great Little Place

There is no denying that this coffee shop in Southport lives up to its name. A great little place opened in December 2010 and with three awards under its belt and a second cafe around the corner, this small business is bigger than ever!

The not-for-profit 40-seater cafe, with its homemade cooking and cosy interior of sofas, bookcases and TV feels like a home from home.

It’s a coffee shop and we’re not trying to be fancy,” says Sue Yarnell, the manager. “But we wanted to create a nice and relaxing place for customers to enjoy fresh, local food.”

The café is a social enterprise by Autism Ventures, part of Autism Initiatives, a charity launched in Liverpool 40 years ago. The organisation believes that all people with autism have the potential to make a valued and valuable contribution to society and a great little place helps them with training, support and the ability to learn new skills through work experience. The cafe has permanent staff, who work alongside people with autism who come for placements. Some stay on as volunteers once they have finished their training.

Sue, who has been cooking since she was a young girl, took a professional cookery course aimed at people wanting to open their homemade cooking and cosy interior of sofas, bookcases and TV feels like a home from home.

It’s a coffee shop and we’re not trying to be fancy,” says Sue Yarnell, the manager. “But we wanted to create a nice and relaxing place for customers to enjoy fresh, local food.”

The café is a social enterprise by Autism Ventures, part of Autism Initiatives, a charity launched in Liverpool 40 years ago. The organisation believes that all people with autism have the potential to make a valued and valuable contribution to society and a great little place helps them with training, support and the ability to learn new skills through work experience. The cafe has permanent staff, who work alongside people with autism who come for placements. Some stay on as volunteers once they have finished their training.

Sue, who has been cooking since she was a young girl, took a professional cookery course aimed at people wanting to open their own restaurant a few years ago. She said she’d always wanted to work for a charity, ‘‘I wanted to do a job that made a difference.”
Based on Hoghton Street in the sea-side town, the coffee shop’s menu was created by Sue, and includes sandwiches, paninis, a daily soup, plus specials.

Being a small business we are lucky that we can be flexible with our menu,” explains Sue. “If something doesn’t work then we can drop it straight away, and we always change to suit the seasons. Being spring, our fresh greens and lemon soup is a favourite and we are doing our own version of pulled pork, but using lamb instead.”

But it’s their cakes which are the top sellers.

We use really good quality ingredients to produce really good cakes,” says Sue. “After all, you can’t beat a homemade one!”
Baked on the premises daily, cakes include the old favourites like carrot, chocolate and bakewell, but they also try and mix it up with something a bit different.

We did a parsnip and maple syrup cake once, beetroot brownies and a dark chocolate and cherry brandy fudge cake,” said Sue. The main thing for Sue and her team is to keep her loyal customers, who have shown a tremendous support for the venture, happy. “Our customers are brilliant,” beams Sue. “We pay a lot of attention to what they like. We know them well but we won’t become complacent.”

It’s clear a little great place is doing everything right and the proof is in the pudding. They scooped the award for best coffee shop in May 2011 at the Southport Food and Drink festival and best cafe and best team in the 2013 Southport Ambassador Awards – both voted for by their customers. They were winner of TripAdvisors certificate of Excellence 2013.

And with a second business, a great little place to go now open just around the corner on London Street, there is nothing small about their success.

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