‘We did it’: heart-warming homecoming as Sheffield’s Rose Garden Cafe reopens for Christmas

Campaigners who dedicated themselves to saving their community’s cafe celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas.
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Dozens of people gathered at the Rose Garden Cafe in Graves Park for the grand reopening at 9.30 am this morning.

They stood together in celebration holding a giant banner that read: “We did it. Thank you.”

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Andy Kershaw, who co-led the campaign, said it was a sweet moment when Julie Collins, who had been the cafe manager for eight years, opened the doors again.

Campaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy KershawCampaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy Kershaw
Campaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy Kershaw

He said: “Thank you to everybody for all your wonderful support and everybody who turned up and everybody who has played a part in this tremendous milestone.

“The next big challenge is to raise the money to get it renovated, repaired and refurbished and we are already on the way with that project.”

Local councillors Ian and Sue Auckland as well as Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, joined the many who came for the occasion.

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Ms Haigh said: “It was wonderful to join these community campaigners this morning who have dedicated themselves to the reopening of the Rose Garden Cafe.

Campaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy KershawCampaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy Kershaw
Campaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy Kershaw

“Graves Park is such a treasured park for the people of Sheffield and the cafe is an iconic building in its heart. It was brilliant to celebrate its reopening just before Christmas.”

It followed a huge campaign with protests and a nearly 10,000 signature petition launched by the community when Sheffield Council closed the cafe in July due to what it called serious structural safety issues.

Liz Hnat, chair of Save the Rose Garden Cafe, said it was a display of people power.

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She said: “Although the fight is not over to save the building, this is a milestone. It’s taken far too long to get here, there’s a question as to whether we even should be here. But for now, this is brilliant news and we wouldn’t be here without [the] support and petition signatures and the amazing work of the people in this campaign group.”

Campaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy KershawCampaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy Kershaw
Campaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy Kershaw

Survey, safety and propping work was carried out in October and November to prepare the site for reopening.

Coun Bryan Lodge, charity trustee sub-committee chair, said: “We know this has been a difficult time for everyone affected and it is in no way what we wanted to happen. We regret that the café has been closed for so many weeks, but as the surveys have shown, the building standalone was not structurally sound, and public safety is not a risk we’re willing to take here.”

Brewkitchen, the operator, is running it as a takeaway with a small seating area on an ongoing temporary basis.

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Simon Webster of Brewkitchen said they will be serving a range of hot and cold drinks, cakes, homemade soup and other treats.

Campaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy KershawCampaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy Kershaw
Campaigners who dedicated themselves to saving the Rose Garden Cafe, in Graves Park, celebrated today as it reopened for the first time in 148 days, ahead of Christmas. Photo by: Andy Kershaw

He added: “We’ve been blown away by the support we have received, and we’re really excited to see the regular faces that we’ve missed so much and serve the community again. The cafe has always been the hub of the park and the support we’ve received has been heart-warming, thank you.”

The results of eight surveys are now being considered to inform the long-term future of the cafe, which will be decided following public consultation.

Coun Lodge said the council remained “open-minded” to possibilities for the site.