A VIBRANT mix of venues has strengthened the setting of a scenic village to provide residents with "everything you need".

A historic village to the north east of the borough, Rainford is well-known for its leafy surroundings and traditional pubs and venues.

With pubs like the Star, the Golden Lion, and the Eagle and Child attracting customers from across St Helens, a growing mix of independent businesses has helped diversify the village's offering and breathe new life into the area.

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St Helens Star: Rainford is well known for its traditional pubsRainford is well known for its traditional pubs (Image: St Helens Star)

A venue that mixes traditional breakfasts with fresh brunch, specials, and desserts, Red's Cafe & Coffee House has become a popular hub along Church Road since launching back in 2015.

The welcoming cafe is owned by war veteran and epic fundraiser Andy Reid, who invested in the village after moving to Rainford following the injuries he suffered while serving in Afghanistan.

St Helens Star: Andy Reid outside Red's Cafe and Coffee HouseAndy Reid outside Red's Cafe and Coffee House (Image: Andy Reid)

Andy, who is also the founder of the Standing Tall Foundation which focuses on mental health and addiction support, said: "We have developed a good, loyal customer base in Rainford, and have even started to attract more people because of those working from home.

"Covid was tough, as it was for everybody, and the cost of living crisis is still having an impact, but I think people keep coming back to us because we provide a great service, with good honest food at reasonable prices. 

"We have our traditional meals but we listen to what our customers want, which keeps it fresh and gives people the best possible experience."

St Helens Star: A traditional breakfast at Red'sA traditional breakfast at Red's (Image: Red's Cafe and Coffee House)

Using local and independent businesses for Red's products and sponsoring local sports teams, Andy thinks that Rainford's success is down to its community spirit and the varied mix of venues in the village.

He added: "It's got everything you need in the village really, with great pubs, cafes, shops, and restaurants.

"We like to support the village by shopping locally and sponsoring local teams, so there's a good feeling in the village where everyone tends to look out for each other."

While business is doing well at Red's, the war veteran did suggest that things could be "even better" after a recent application for an outdoor canopy was turned down by the council. 

St Helens Star: Red's Cafe and Coffee HouseRed's Cafe and Coffee House (Image: St Helens Star)

Another cafe that has helped to grow the offering in Rainford is Alpine Kitchen, which opened in the former Cherry Orchard Tearoom premises back in March.

A new resident of Rainford with experience in the hospitality industry, owner James Massey had long sought after a premises along Church Road due to its community atmosphere and potential for a "restaurant standard" cafe.

St Helens Star: James Massey launched Alpine Kitchen in MarchJames Massey launched Alpine Kitchen in March (Image: St Helens Star)

Almost six months into Alpine's launch, James' gamble has clearly paid off as the cafe's reputation has continued to grow in the village.

James said: "Things have been going really well since opening, and although there have been peaks and troughs, we have had some really great feedback and reviews online.

"We've developed a great customer base here, with families and people of all ages, and have started to open later at weekends to accommodate for this.

St Helens Star: Poached egg and avocado toast at AlpinePoached egg and avocado toast at Alpine (Image: Alpine Kitchen)

"We're already looking to expand our offering and have applied for an alcohol licence to sell speciality gins, cocktails, and beers alongside a tapas menu and heated outside seating."

Similar to Red's, James also said there is a focus on shopping local at Alpine, and the strength of community, as exemplified by a volunteer effort to repair Rainford Village Hall, is one of the main reasons why he feels the village is prospering.

St Helens Star: Alpine is looking to expand into a tapas restaurant in the eveningsAlpine is looking to expand into a tapas restaurant in the evenings (Image: St Helens Star)

Despite only opening two months ago, a business that has provided a huge boost to Rainford's local economy is Little Italy, an Italian restaurant run by three brothers on Ormskirk Road.

With a focus on authentic Italian ingredients and a mouth-watering menu of homemade favourites and specials, Little Italy has been so popular that it is often booked out for weeks in advance.

St Helens Star: Francesco, Valerio and Fabio Cangemi in the Little Italy kitchenFrancesco, Valerio and Fabio Cangemi in the Little Italy kitchen (Image: Little Italy)

Francesco, who left his job as an electrician to focus on the restaurant, said: "Things have been really busy since opening, so much so that I think we were all a bit surprised at how quickly it has taken off.

"We try to keep all our products authentic, change our specials as much as we can, and listen to what our customers want to eat, so I think that gives the restaurant something extra and makes it a place people want to try."

St Helens Star: Inside Little Italy on Ormskirk RoadInside Little Italy on Ormskirk Road (Image: St Helens Star)

With Francesco's parents the former owners of Bella Roma in St Helens town centre, Francesco said that cooking "runs in the family" and that the launch of a restaurant is something the brothers had debated for years.

Once the brothers found an empty premises on Ormskirk Road, a little further down from Church Road, the trio agreed that it was the perfect place to invest in and take a chance on.

St Helens Star: Pasta and Birra Moretti at Little ItalyPasta and Birra Moretti at Little Italy (Image: Little Italy)

With Francesco's kids going to school in the village and the family planning to move to the area, he added: "Rainford is a really nice village, and I think we've done well because there's a good mix of venues here and we're not stepping on anyone's toes.

"It's nice to feel a part of the village, and if we're doing well, hopefully that will benefit the area and help other businesses too."

If the successes continue at Little Italy, Francesco added that the brothers will look to expand the business with a second unit with takeway and deli options.