Cafes in Parks

10 replies [Jump to last post]

Cafes in Parks
What makes a good park cafe? This is a question I am often asked due my travels around the country visiting HLF grand funded park projects. As I have now seen well over a 100 examples and it is also something I take great interest in. Much can depend on what your view of good is? Or how you would personally rate quality?  I suggest it would include items such as these - the offer, the setting, the atmosphere, the staff & the service. Well maybe it's all of these, but more importantly for us parks professionals is the viability of a future sustainable business model.

The majority of park cafes benefit from a highly unusual location, so that should create an advantage over the usual high street chains.  Running a park café can be a very fickle business, obviously being very weather dependant and wanting to create a 'destination'. Those that appear to do well maximise their opening hours. I was recently disapppointed to see an examples of a park café closing at 4pm on a hot summer day when the park was still packed well into the evening. The park cafes that I really enjoyed visiting are ones that are great examples of innovation.There are many fine examples and many operators have been very creative finding the niche in the market and making the most of their unique location. Keep an eye on the comment box as I am going to start adding some of my favourite examples and I urge you to please do the same.


View Shaun Kiddell's profile Shaun Kiddell Nov 24 2014 - 10:12am
  1. Williamson Park Lancaster

    Turns into a Bistro on some evenings and aslo offers free wifi


  2. View Shaun Kiddell's profile Shaun Kiddell
    Offline | Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
  3. Rowntree Park York took back the cafe to run 'in house' as an offshoot of the library service. Added value with free book exchange& free wifi plus terminals to return books.



    • Rowntree Park York
  4. View Shaun Kiddell's profile Shaun Kiddell
    Offline | Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
  5. We'll soon be interviewing potential cafe operators for our park. Have you any recommendations for what we should be looking for in someone who is going to take this forward and make a success of it? In my head its going to be someone with a good balance of business savvy and creative ideas, but beyond that I'm not sure what skills to look out for or what questions to ask. Any advice based on the cafes you have seen and operaors that you have met? (to reassure you I will be interviewing with people with much more experience in this field).


  6. View Deborah Merrick's profile Deborah Merrick
    Offline | Last seen: 2 years 10 months ago
  7. Hi Deborah

    Thank you for posting. It sounds like you are on the right track and already seeking added value. I was at a park this week where the parks officers have put the management of the adjacent toilets within the cafe lease, so all responsibility of opening, locking and cleaning was undertaken by the cafe operator.

    Other items to consider are opening hours, training, year round offer, sample menus, healthy offer, fair trade, to name but a few. If its a large park is there scope for addtional sales areas? kiosk, bicycle or refreshement train ? will the operator have exclusive sales at events? all these are well worth considering. Good luck and do keep us informed on development.



  8. View Shaun Kiddell's profile Shaun Kiddell
    Offline | Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
  9. This cafe known as The Place in the Park is in Ward Jackson Park Hartlepool is a real gem. Great facility, good offer, little shop, meeting rooms & creative setting for Victorian themed high tea.



    • The Place in the Park
  10. View Shaun Kiddell's profile Shaun Kiddell
    Offline | Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
  11. Hi Shaun

    Your post put me in mind of a conversation with a cafe franchise owner I had about 10 years ago in Hesketh Park, Southport. Basically the owner explained his theory about park cafe success which had been handed down to him (and he was in his 60's at the time!) by his father who was the Sales Manager for Lyons Ice Cream throughout the north and supplied over 500 park cafes.

    Basicaly his theory for a successful park cafe was that it shouldn't lie too far into the park as he felt that put people off visiting it, especially 'little old ladies' - his words not mine but the conversation and number of parks with cafes has always stuck with me!

    Grosvenor Park in Chester have just opened a new cafe as part of their HLF restoration so perhaps another to add to your review list.

    Best regards


  12. View Stuart Ryder's profile Stuart Ryder
    Offline | Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
  13. We launched our new park cafe this summer and we are very happy with the results, great atmosphere and good quality coffee from a young local entrepreneur.


  14. View Liz Stuffins's profile Liz Stuffins
    Offline | Last seen: 2 months 3 weeks ago
  15. I've heard good things about your park so can't wait to visit


  16. View Shaun Kiddell's profile Shaun Kiddell
    Offline | Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
  17. I'm pretty new to this community and looking for some pointers with a proposal I'm trying to get of the ground for our local park. My local park has a redundant bowls pavilion which closed around 10 years ago. The building did have a limited life run by our local authority for sporting equipment for us in the games area of the park such as tennis, netball, basketball etc. However, sadly this was also discontinued. I'm really keen to ensure that the building is put to good use for our community. 

    My proposal involves a local community group taking over the running of the buildings which would include a cafe area, large community activity room, and sports equipment dry store. This would mean that sports equipment can again be provided for use in the park to encourage more people into the park. Likewise, the community activity room would be available for community groups looking for space to hold events and activities, the pavilion itself is right next to a recently refurbished play area so ideal for toddlers young children. In addition I see the cafe running as a not for profit, re-investing into the pavilion and park itself for the benefit of the community.

    At this point, my proposal is just that, I'm carrying out a survey at the moment of park users asking them their thoughts on what facilities they would like to see in the park. 

    Our park was previously owned by Miner's from the old colliery which was nearby, this closed in the 1960's and a housing estate built.

    I'm keen as part of my research on any other similar projects, suggestions or advice anyone can give.


  18. View Russell Greig's profile Russell Greig
    Offline | Last seen: 10 months 4 days ago
  19. in reply to

    Hi Russell

    Thanks for your post.

    One park that springs to mind is Lordship Recreation Ground in Tottenham, London.

    The cafe and community hub there is run by a community co-operative which appears to have been quite suiccessful. There is a very proactive and engaged friends of there too, so worth getting in touch with them to see how they've arrived to that point.

    Sounds like a really worthwhile project to explore so I'll ask around the teams in HLF to see if we have some more good examples for you.

    All the best




  20. View Chris Falconer's profile Chris Falconer
    Offline | Last seen: 7 months 2 weeks ago
Back to top of page