AN award-winning Mold cafe has launched a £20,000 expansion project which will double the popular coffee shop’s seating capacity.
Lot 11 Express, on the corner of Chester Street and High Street, has taken over the former shoe repair shop next door and is currently knocking through to expand the cafe in order to keep up with demand.
Part owner and manager, Sarah Baker, has built a loyal, growing customer base since opening in summer 2017 and her focus is on employing local people and using regional suppliers.
The breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon snacks bar, which has a sister site in Hill Street, Wrexham, is open seven days a week.
It employs four staff including two who formerly worked in the Mold branch of Greggs bakery which closed earlier this year.
Sarah, 30, of Gwersyllt, Wrexham, said: “When the next door shop became available, we wanted to snap it up because knocking through was the obvious thing to do to ensure we can make the most of the fantastic and loyal customer base we have built up.
“I’ve been amazed by the support we’ve had in Mold. We’re always busy and mornings are ram packed, so extra space will make a big difference.”
She added: “Additional space also opens the way for us to cater for larger groups. If that takes off I may have to increase my team and look at employing more people.”
The expansion will provide room for four tables and 18 additional covers, up from the current 20 covers when they are at maximum capacity.
Sarah already has big plans and is also applying for an alcohol license and considering hosting occasional evening events such as gin nights and prosecco parties.
The exciting expansion news comes on the back of a summer of award winning for the Lot 11 mini-chain. In a thrilling double coup, Lot 11 Express was Highly Commended in the Best in Wales category of the Wales Cafe Awards 2019. Its sister business was voted Best Cafe in Wrexham.
A year earlier Sarah was given the honour of Rising Star in Tourism at the This Is Wrexham Tourism Awards. At the same event she secured an accolade for her commitment to using local produce.
Her route to success has been supported by the joint-owners of the Fat Boar gastro pub group who are investors in Lot 11 – Rich Watkin, ex-Everton player Barry Horne and director of Hays Travel North West, Don Bircham.
Hays Travel Mold is two doors along from Lot 11 Express so the coffee house extension will put the whole block under the same management.
Sarah said: “I wouldn’t be up and running now if my colleagues at the Fat Boar hadn’t the confidence to invest in me.”
She laughed: “It felt a bit like going on Television’s Dragon’s Den presenting my business plan to them. Fortunately they recognised it as feasible and knew how committed I am to making it work.”
Her financiers bought the premises which Sarah leases from them.
“It gives me the business independence I crave but back up if I need it or want advice,” said Sarah who grew up in Rhosddu, near Wrexham, and attended Darland High School, Rossett.
She has worked in hospitality since she was 14, starting off waitressing, then moving into restaurant and bar management to fund her Criminology degree course at John Moores University, Liverpool.
Sarah followed her heart when it came to subsequent career choices.
She said: “I really enjoyed criminology but I always dreamed of owning a cafe. I just couldn’t let that go.”
On graduating she worked her way around Australia, an experience which increased her yearning to run her own business.
She said: “Australia has an ingrained coffee culture especially in Melbourne. People wake up early, go jogging and call at cafes for coffee and brunch, all before work!”
It inspired avid foodie Sarah with ideas for simple, tasty recipes.
She said: “We use them in Lot 11 Express and they’re hugely popular, on trend foods like avocado and pumpkin. Our biggest seller is smashed avocado and feta on sourdough.”
When she’s not running the business Sarah finds time to post her food reviews on Instagram.
Her Eat North Wales account has nearly 1,500 followers.
She said: “I focus on independent cafes around North Wales. I’m a firm believer in us all working to support each other. We’ve a strong, vibrant food community in this region and I enjoy doing my bit to spread the word about our region’s brilliant choice of eating places. Plus,” she added with a grin: “It’s a great excuse to eat out more!”