All change at the Pavilion café, Rothwell

2 December 2020

All change at Pavilion café. The time has come to bid farewell to one of Rothwell’s finest members of the community. Paul and Tracey are leaving for pastures new but I couldn’t let them leave without paying tribute to the fine work they have done over the last few years. Paul agreed to have a chat about his time at the café and to tell us what the plans are for its future.

Tell us how you became the owner of the Pavilion café and why you chose this place?

Both my wife, Tracey, and I have been customers at the café for as long as we can remember and after we moved to Rothwell we often jokingly said that one day we’d take the business on and transform it into the park café that the community of Rothwell deserved. When the previous tenant left, we approached the council about the tenancy and were told that there would be a bidding process for interested parties. On the open day, hosted by the council, I can remember there being many people in attendance who were interested, many of whom had much more experience than us. This made us think, at the time, that we really didn’t stand a chance of being successful. When we received the documents to submit our bid, I was somewhat overwhelmed with their scale and complexity. I decided to follow the process through, more as an academic exercise to prove to myself that I could do it, but with little expectation. When we were contacted to say that we were the preferred bidder, we were amazed. This is the point when the panic set in! We had brilliant support from the council to get us up and running, but the first summer was chaotic and extremely stressful. However, bit by bit, we settled in and are now very proud of what we’ve built.

What events have you held at the café for the community? Which one was your favourite?

We’ve loved hosting special events such as Summer and Winter craft fairs and pop-up sales for local artisans. We’ve been able to raise quite a bit of money for charity through these events, with our main charity being Dementia Friendly Rothwell who do fantastic work in our local community. We’re also happy to provide a discount to people supported by the charity. We supported the opening of the Dementia Friendly Garden in the park, which continues to provide a lovely oasis of calm and sensory experiences. We have a great relationship with the local Park Run and support them by storing their equipment, providing space for their admin activities and providing a discount for park runners. One of the things that we’ve enjoyed most is the way that we were able to bring some of the park’s regular dog walkers together to become a group of friends who had previously only ever nodded politely to each other on their daily walks. Without a doubt our favourite annual event is “Breakfast with Santa”, where everyone gets the chance to have a friendly chat with Santa in a relaxed environment that the kids (and parents) really love – we know that we’ve been able to cure quite a few children’s fears of Santa with our very friendly, informal approach – Santa has even been spotted playing tennis!

Which community groups have used the café?

We’ve hosted meetings and events for Rothwell Carnival Committee, Friends of Rothwell Civic Enterprise (FoRCE), Amateur Dramatics of Rothwell (ADoR), Springhead Park Volunteers, fostering groups, heritage exhibitions, parent & toddler groups, craft classes and smaller local community groups who just need a small amount of space for a get together

Tell us about the new owner and what they have planned for Pavilion in the future?

When we made the decision to move on, we were lucky to be approached by Tracey’s brother and sister-in-law, Terry and Zoe Gates, to become the new owners. Terry had worked with us on the refurbishment in 2014 and, it turns out, had always been interested in owning the café. We’re delighted that the Pavilion will be remaining in the family. Terry is a builder and land-scape gardener by trade, so he has the resources and experience to take the Pavilion to the next level in terms of infrastructure, although it’s still too early to be able to discuss any specific plans. I’m sure that Terry will be delighted to provide more detail when the time is right! I know that Terry and Zoe are keen to continue the family and community focus that we’ve established. It’s been a difficult year for all small businesses and the Pavilion will need the continued support of the community to ensure that it can get through the current turmoil and be there for everyone when life gets back to normal.

You are moving out of the area, what will you miss most Rothwell and why?

We love the sense of community in Rothwell and have enjoyed being a part of that, both personally and from a business perspective. We’ll miss our customers, who for the last six and a half years have been incredibly supportive. There is something uniquely satisfying about being able to provide a positive experience for so many people every day – it’s amazing how serving someone a lovely coffee, with a fancy pattern can make their day. Many of our customers have become friends who we will stay in touch with. We feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a core part of the community of Rothwell and we’ll come back to say hello as often as we can.

So it’s farewell to Paul and Tracey but a huge hello to Terry and Zoe who, I’m sure, will appreciate your continuous support of the Pavilion café. I know I am looking forward to meeting them in the not too distant future.

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