SALE: Cafe Fresh owners, Chris Johnson and Phil Dawson  TM pic
SALE: Cafe Fresh owners, Chris Johnson and Phil Dawson TM pic

THE owners of a popular upper dale cafe have put their business up for sale after celebrating five years of successful trading.

Chris Johnson and Phil Dawson opened Cafe Fresh in Middleton-in-Teesdale in January 2015. Now they are owners of a busy eatery which has become a firm favourite with locals and tourists.

Despite their love for the cafe, the pair, who live in Forest-in-Teesdale, have decided that the time is right to step down and hopefully allow someone else to grow the business further.

Mr Johnson, 36, said: “We always said that when we got to five years we would review it. We just expected to have a little coffee shop that does sandwiches and cakes and it has grown to be one of the busiest cafes in the village.

“We did this for the love of wanting to do it. We never thought we would ever get it to where it is today.”

They started with a vision for a small, quaint coffee shop but their business idea soon began to flourish. The second Cafe Fresh premises was run from Bowlees Visitor Centre from March 2016 until December 2017. The cafe also extended its offerings over into Weardale from August 2016 until April 2018. During the past five years, Cafe Fresh has won a number of awards and is also highly rated on TripAdvisor thanks to its loyal customer following.

The business is now solely based on Horsemarket, in Middleton-in-Teesdale, and is run by the couple with the help of five part-time members of staff. It seats up to 40 people which includes additional seating upstairs as well as outdoor tables. The building has been adapted to cater for the business’ growth including the introduction of a fully equipped commercial kitchen, a disabled toilet and baby changing facilities.

Mr Dawson, 31, said: “It has gone well beyond what we ever set out to do. The last five years has been a rollercoaster.”

Mr Johnson said: “We have had tears, tantrums and laughs. We have got things wrong and learned by them. There is no textbook for this type of trade.

“The best feeling ever is when you are stood behind the counter, the shop is full and everyone is eating and talking to each other. This is a community cafe.

“When we first opened we were doubted. People thought we would not last six months. We have had to prove ourselves. We feel that this cafe has now become a hub in the community. It really brings everyone together.”

The business and leasehold is on the market for £19,500. Although they are looking forward to taking a step back from running their own business to enjoy travelling in their free time, the pair admit they are in no hurry to get away.

Mr Johnson said: “If it sells, it sells. If it doesn’t then it will be business as usual and we have plans to restructure. We will do some work to make the cafe even better with a mini refurbishment.”

The couple thanked everyone for their support over the past five years including customers, staff and suppliers.

However, Mr Johnson added: “Until the business is sold, signed and sealed it is not farewell from us yet.”