One Year On, Two Awards, The Hub of the Community – Anna’s Cafe Bar

A RURAL village bar that has become the heart of a remote community celebrated its first anniversary by picking up a second business award.

In June 2018 when Anna Preece opened Anna’s Cafe Bar on Burnley Road, Weir, Bacup, she looked up and down the busy main road wondering if anyone would visit… and they did. By lunchtime the café was packed and after just eight weeks the business had already achieved the target Anna had set for six months.

The success continued and in November Anna’s was the ‘Invest in Rossendale’ award winner at Rossendale Business Awards, and now at the Rossendale Lifestyle Awards it picked up ‘Bar of the Year’.

Anna, 44, used to be a full-time mum, make soup and bake bread to sell locally and was a part-time copywriter. Now, along with her husband Dave, she is partner in the business, which has offered full and part-time employment to many in a village where there are few job opportunities.

She said: “At the Lifestyle Awards Councillor Sean Serridge was announcing the winner and as he used to live in the village until recently and visits here, I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if he presented the award to us.’ Then he did. It was such a strong category with so many great bars as finalists I didn’t think we would win it.”

Initially, Anna and Dave were looking to rent the premises, which used to be a shop, and had started the planning process only for the owners to announce they were selling to a third party. Anna said: “I was gutted, but then that fell through and we were offered the building and were able to raise the money to buy it. We got the deeds in February and the first thing I did was come in and start knocking walls down.”

Anna and Dave have two children Poppy, 15, and Huey, 12, and Anna said it has been important for them to understand that hard work reaps its own rewards. She said: “Before we opened I was worried about how it would go, but I sort of knew it was going to work. I always knew what I wanted to do with the building and had a vision, but this has become so much bigger.

“We are now a hub for the community to meet, socialise, get to know their neighbours and hold parties. We have also had a visitor come all the way from Leeds – how many cafes did he pass on his way just to come here?”

Meeting a real need in the remote village by providing a warm and welcoming place, has ensured Anna’s is packed every weekend and tables need to be booked in advance. Now Anna is considering an Anna’s 2 and possibly an Anna’s 3 in other areas, replicating the successful template of the Weir business.

She said: “These awards are as much for my team as they are absolutely key to Anna’s being as successful as it is. We knew we had high quality products, we only use high quality ingredients and everything is home-made, but the excellent service, welcome and making people feel comfortable is just as important as we want them to come back.”

Anna’s also gives back and has donated nearly £1,300 vouchers to charities and community groups since it opened.

by Catherine Smyth Media

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