Millfield House café hopes for increased business

Photograph: Sophie Bauckham

Jesmond Dene’s recently refurbished Millfield House café is hoping for an upturn in business after the completion of the Pets’ Corner regeneration next week.

Despite a damp and dreary autumn, then the early winter snow, business is building slowly but surely at the café which serves coffee and teas and an array of cakes, scones and sandwiches.

Managing director Joe Risi says he is pleased with how the first months have unfolded, but is hoping that the cafe will become more popular when work on Pet’s Corner finishes on 10th December and word spreads that the cafe is open again for business.

Risi admits it has been a hard task to reopen successfully at this time of year. “The weather has been worse than ever, and it caused us a few delays and setbacks,” he said, “ And it’s been hard having a building site for a neighbour.”

However, he says the cafe is looking forward to the spring and summer, when the public can make full use of the facilities, and enjoy refreshments outside on the patio in the gardens.

Millfield House also includes a purpose-built classroom and conference centre. Both have been used frequently since the reopening, by businesses, schools and community groups, including the Newcastle Girl Guides Association which held its county day there on the 20th November.

A resident of Jesmond Park West, Risi says he is delighted to be involved with the rejuvenation of such a unique resource like Jesmond Dene, and to give something back to the community he lives in. He said: ”This project is like my baby and I can’t wait to see it develop even further.”

He is also hoping that the £6m regeneration programme of the five Ouseburn parks will stimulate more public interest in the inner-city oasis. “Refurbishment of Pets’ Corner and Paddy Freeman’s has been long awaited,” he says. “The Dene is such a special attribute to Jesmond, and Newcastle, that it deserves to have as many people as possible using and enjoying it. The money couldn’t have been better spent.”

Millfield House café, which reopened its doors in October, currently has five staff. The café was refurbished as part of ‘‘The Ouseburn Park Project’ and was jointly funded by the National Heritage Lottery fund, Newcastle Council and the Risi Family, which owns two other cafés in the Newcastle area: one on the Quayside and another at Paddy Freeman’s Park in High Heaton.