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Country Kitchen gives empty Hardshaw Centre space a new lease of life
NEW St Helens eaterie Country Kitchen enjoyed roaring trade on its first day of business, with 10 per cent of its opening day sales and tips being donated to Willowbrook Hospice.
Nestling in a corner of St Helens’ Hardshaw Centre, the newly-renovated space has been given a new lease of life since its original occupant, Country Larder, closed in October.
Country Kitchen hopes to continue the success of its sister café, Cassandra’s (St Mary’s Arcade, St Helens) and bring a new wave of customers to the shopping centre.
Owner and manager Kim Soni said: “Business was obviously the main motivation…this space had a lot more potential. There was a lot you could do with it.
“We wanted to duplicate what we have with Cassandra’s but do something more. We saw it as a new challenge.”
Country Kitchen is about serving fresh, homemade, locally-produced hearty food.
“We source everything we can as local as possible – all of our meats, pies, pasties, bread, jams and preserves,” Kim said.
“All of our bakers are local to the region. Because we’re a small company, they really look after us, and we can look after them in return.”
Kim’s idea for a new branch has been in the pipeline since March.
She said: “We knew it would be a bit of a risk, especially with already running one business. But after looking at the space, we thought we’d go for it. Something felt right.”
The opening of Country Kitchen meant the creation of a small pool of new jobs for local people. It has so far employed six waiters and four cooks, including an ex-employee from Country Larder.
“Everyone has been amazing,” Kim said.
“Getting loyal staff who aren’t going to let you down is a big challenge. The right combination is important too – finding people who work well together.”
Cassandra’s customers tend to be mostly the older generation, whose favourite choices on the menu include the all-day breakfast, the roast dinner and the takeout scones, all of which are very popular.
However, Kim hopes that Country Kitchen will attract customers of all ages.
She said: “It can be really hard to get that balance.
“We’re going to add some new options to our menu that will hopefully attract younger people.
“Fresh smoothies will be the main thing – younger people are becoming more health-conscious. Porridge is a new option we’ve recently added.”
Ten per cent of all sales from Country Kitchen’s opening day, as well as staff tips, were donated to Willowbrook Hospice in Prescot.
“It’s nice to support a local charity everyone knows and recognises,” said Kim.
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