THE Courtyard has only been open for 18 months but it already has a loyal customer following.

So much so, that owner Catherine Owen and the team welcome some customers to their coffee shop every day of the week!

Here, in our latest Business of the Week feature, Catherine tells us how and why she decided to open a coffee shop and drops a few hints about what’s to come in 2024.

If you would like your business to feature as Business or Trader of the Week, email

What’s the name of the business?

The Courtyard

What’s the address?

243 City Road,


St Helens,

WA10 6UY

The Courtyward welcomed Hollyoaks actor James Sutton

The Courtyward welcomed Hollyoaks actor James Sutton

Are you the owner/manager?

I’m the owner

When did you open the business?

We opened May 31, 2022

Has it always been in the same location?


The Courtyard opened on City Road in May 2022

The Courtyard opened on City Road in May 2022

Are you local to the area? Did you grow up here?

I was born and grew up in St Helens. I moved to the estate opposite the building and always thought it would make a great coffee shop and eatery. It came up for sale while I was on holiday at Easter 2022. I was a teacher for 20 years and I believe in fate. I wouldn’t have had a chance to view it if I hadn’t been on holiday. My dad must have been looking down on me.

Tell me a bit about your business

We chose to set up a family business to provide local people with somewhere to meet up and have exceptional food and great drinks. I’ve always loved going out to eat with friends and family and felt this was the perfect opportunity in the area. With so much new housing investment there was a need for a coffee shop. My children love the fact they can get a great breakfast on the weekend! We’re dog friendly and support local artists who have their work on display at The Courtyard.


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A full English is a popular item on the menu

A full English is a popular item on the menu

What do you do? What services do you provide?

We are a coffee shop and eatery. We can seat 40 customers inside and 26 outside when the weather is warmer. We serve breakfast, lunch, drinks and coffee. We keep breakfasts on the lunch menu as that is what the customers want. All our cakes are homemade by our lovely Louise and these can be taken away as a treat for later, if you wish. We also serve alcohol with our lunch menu. It is walk in only, no need to make a booking. We offer gluten free and vegan options on our menus, as I believe in inclusivity and want to cater for everyone.

Why did you decide to open your own business?

I was a head of drama at Hawkley Hall High School for nearly 20 years. Call it a mid-life crisis but I fancied a new challenge and needed more freedom so I could be around for my mu, as she needed more support. I’ll be honest, I was naïve about how hard it would be but I’m loving it.

What’s your business background?

I have certainly had to re-educate myself and I’m still learning. I have to say a massive thank you to my staff for all their support, particularly Mark, my chef. He has been in the business for more than 20 years and mentored and coached me on all aspects of the food industry.

Inside The Coutryard in Windle

Inside The Coutryard in Windle

Why this type of business?

I’m a very sociable person so love the camaraderie we have with the customers. I’m a team player as well, so I love working with lots of people. I love to help people so like to chat to customers and support them if I can.

Were you open before/during/after the Covid-19 pandemic? How did this affect your business?

We opened after the Covid-19 pandemic. A lot of people thought I was mad starting a new business – maybe I was. It has been hard at times, particularly with cost-of-living crisis, utilities, price of food etc but we are grateful to all our lovely customers who support us.


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The Courtyard is dog friendly

The Courtyard is dog friendly

What makes your business different to others in the same area/field? What sets your business apart from your competitors?

I have a great team, who are so personable, and I like to think that customers feel like they are at a home away from home when they visit. I want to make visiting us special. We also make sure that we have quality ingredients and everything is cooked expertly by our chefs. Presentation is important and I feel like we feast all the senses.

Why do loyal customers return to your business?

Because we look after them! We have a lot of customers who visit us weekly – sometimes more often. Tricia and Dave visit every day - most days with Rob in tow. We talk to our customers personally and they have become friends. There would be too many to name check!

What’s next? What do the next few months hold for you and your business?

For me, it is all about consistency and making sure we keep our standards high. Also, exciting things are afoot but it’s too early to say. All I will say, is watch this space!

The outside terrace has seating for 20 customers

The outside terrace has seating for 20 customers