THE owner of the much-loved and popular café Toast is sharing the secrets to the venue’s success, as they celebrate their 12th year.

Lisa Whittle launched Toast on Dentons Green Lane in 2011 and despite "many challenges" the business has thrived to become a firm favourite on the St Helens food scene – particularly for its afternoon teas and tasty cooked breakfasts.

Mum-of-two Lisa credits its success to its "positive and enthusiastic staff, welcome environment and quality ingredients and food".

The venue is accessed via its cobbled front courtyard - where there are a few dining tables - while inside the homely decor offers the spot where many Sintelliners love to visit for a spot to eat, brew or a slice of Toast's delicious cakes.

Out back, there's a patio garden, which is something of a suntrap through the summer.

St Helens Star: Inside ToastInside Toast (Image: Inside Toast)

She told the Star: “I have a marketing background, I have owned the building for 16 years and the previous tenant was a café, and I knew I wanted to make something special with it and that’s why I set up Toast.

“I use the basic principles of marketing which are product, place, price and promotion.

St Helens Star: Inside ToastInside Toast (Image: Inside Toast)

“I never wanted to be in the town centre, even back then we knew trends were that town centres weren’t as popular as they once were and here there are three primary schools, two high schools and other popular businesses nearby.

“We’ve built the business over the years, we’ve extended and used the suntrap garden, the courtyard which was where bins were stored before is now more seating so people with dogs can enjoy coming to eat and we moved the kitchen to the front of the house instead of the café, all of which added to the business.

St Helens Star: ToastToast (Image: Toast)

“I’m very passionate about offering a homely environment and maintaining the good ingredients we always have, even with the rising price of items, I won’t budge on offering the quality customers have come to expect here."

The wide appeal of Toast is one of its big pulling points too. It's even become a spot which people use for their celebrations.

Lisa adds: “We are proud that we are popular not just with one age group, but with teenagers, couples and children as well – a few even choose to have their birthday with us which is a good sign.

“My staff here are excellent: I have people here who love what they do and that comes across to customers.

"I have a low staff turnaround which makes me very proud as that means they love working here.

St Helens Star: Inside ToastInside Toast (Image: Inside Toast)

While it was a tough time for all food and drink businesses during Covid, Lisa feels the measures Toast put in place strengthened its connection with customers, especially the more senior citizens.

She added: “We were very conscious during Covid to follow the rules to the letter and I feel like that security we offered to customers has led to them continuing to feel safe and well looked after here, we have lots of the older generation coming in and it was our duty and pride to look after them and keep them coming back.

“We try to offer something for everyone from the cakes, to tea served in China cups and giving that home-from-home feeling which is so important.”

St Helens Star: Inside ToastInside Toast (Image: Inside Toast)

Offering advice to future business owners, Lisa added: “Owning a business is hard work, an independent business even more so.

"But hard work and commitment is what will make it a success. A lot is down to luck too but people supporting independent businesses is what is important.”