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Thursday, July 25, 2024

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Walkers on Wesley Street celebrate fifth birthday

Walkers on Wesley Street in Southport town centre are celebrating their fifth birthday.

With its mouthwatering homemade treats and welcoming atmosphere, the cosy, family-run cafe has grown a loyal customer base.

Photo by Bertie Cunningham Southport BID

Local couple Helen Walker, who manages the front of house, and Simon Walker, who has worked in hospitality for 35 years, run the cafe.

A team of 10 staff members support them at a venue that has had to expand due to rising customer demand.

The future hasn’t always looked so rosy for an independent local business that had to battle through the COVID pandemic in its first year of operation.

Photo by Bertie Cunningham Southport BID
Photo by Bertie Cunningham Southport BID

Helen Walker said:

“We are delighted to be celebrating our fifth birthday! It’s a great milestone to reach. I can’t quite believe it. We’ve created a really friendly cafe where everyone is welcome. We started Walkers on Wesley Street with just eight tables and then expanded next door, and now use upstairs as a meeting and function room.

Now we have 15 tables inside while our nine outdoor tables are very popular during good weather too. Because we are five years old, we have just taken our first delivery of ice cream. We are going to be selling a variety of different flavours. We have five flavours at the moment. We are starting slow and are looking to develop.

We host a twice weekly knit and natter group, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons – although there’s often more natting than knitting! We have a weekly writers’ group. We also host a friendship group for people with additional needs. They’re lovely people, they’ve created our planters at the front.

“People don’t have to be experts to join any of the groups. We just want people to come and be involved. We enjoy seeing families in here. Children love seeing their juice served in a teapot. We enjoy staging an afternoon tea with Father Christmas every December.

We have got so many regulars, who we’re very grateful for. Customers recognise our food for being really good. The soup, the coleslaw, the cakes, everything is home-made and delicious. Just don’t tell my husband, I don’t want it to go to his head!”

While Simon Walker has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry, Helen was a Childcare and Social Care Lecturer at Southport College when the couple started the cafe.

Helen said:

“I was doing both jobs at first. I was fortunate I did when the pandemic happened, because at least I still had some work coming in. We had only been going for a few months when the first lockdown came in. We were worried whether customers would come back. But after the lockdowns ended, we became incredibly busy, and I had to devote myself to the cafe full-time.

“Because my background is in social and children’s care, I am very mindful and friendly to customers who come in. We always promote that within our team too. It’s important to be friendly, to say hello to people and to make sure they’re ok. Anyone who is on their own is always welcome at Walkers. People who come in may not have spoken to anyone else before they come in here; or they may be going home to an empty house afterwards.

“It’s something that sets the local independent cafes apart from some of the big chains. There is more of a personal touch with a local business. We saw a big change among people after the pandemic. People are valuing and supporting their independents more than they did before. I certainly am. It has been a crazy five years since we first opened. We have expanded enough now. We are not going anywhere bigger than this, I have got enough grey hairs!”

Walkers has become an integral part of the colourful Wesley Street – dubbed ‘the village in the town’ as it’s full of unique, independent local businesses.

The buildings’ frontages are all painted different colours to further give the street an identity.

Helen said:

“Wesley Street is a lovely little street. We have got some really good neighbours. Lots of visitors from outside Southport find Walkers on Wesley Street through our positive reviews on TripAdvisor and Google and then go and explore some of the other unique places along the street.

We all work together and recommend each other. There’s a really good sense of community with everyone supporting each other.”

READ MORE: WAYFARERS SHOPPING ARCADE IN SOUTHPORT WELCOMES NEW CIGAR SHOP

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