Cheers all round as lake cafe re-opens

THE first cups of coffee for 17 months were served in Roundhay Park's hugely popular Lakeside Cafe which re-opened after it was almost destroyed by fire.

Tenant David Rogers and his staff had worked up to the last minute preparing for a wedding reception last Saturday and then for the public launch yesterday.

"We haven't done any advertising," he said, "but word seems to have got around."

Indeed there were 20 customers in the first 15 minutes though one regular visitor, Sir Jimmy Savile, was a surprise absentee.

"He called on Thursday to see how we were doing," said Mr Rogers, "and he will be in later."

First customers were German-born Esther and Johannes Arens who come from the Rhineland.

Johannes, 39, is vicar of St James's Church, Manston, having taken up the post four years ago.

Esther, mother of two, is a librarian based in Hunslet.


"We thought it was a shame the caf missed last season," said Esther. "It's such a brilliant place."

Dog walker Chris Young said: "We are so pleased the cafe is back. I am one of the dog owners who come to the park every day and we were devastated when the cafe burned down.

"It's such an important place for the community."

Kate Fisher is back as manageress along with some of her old staff.

Damien Hall, one of her regular staff, said: "It's different – but it's also like we've never been away."

The layout of the counters has been changed; a new floor has been laid; and new tables and chairs have been brought in. The re-opening was held up by insurance issues.

One insurer thought the cafe simply needed a new lick of paint and another thought it should be pulled down and re-built.

But it has been possible to restore it without demolition.

An electrical fault in a piece of equipment triggered the blaze which ripped through the roof and caused extensive smoke and water damage.

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