Renowned local coffee roasters and tea specialists Atkinsons have been chosen by the Duchy of Lancaster to open and run the new purpose-built visitor café at Lancaster Castle. The company is expected to open The Kitchen for the first time to the public at the beginning of November.
The facility includes a new bar area in the original prison kitchen building and a purpose-built dining room with bi-fold doors onto a new courtyard terrace under the Castle’s original curtain wall. The interior fit-out of The Kitchen has been completed by Maitland Steel and reflects the company’s well-established branding and contemporary design style. The menu will feature a range of specialist teas and coffees, artisan sandwiches, cakes and snacks.
Commenting on the new venue, Atkinsons ‘Keeper of the Flame’ Ian Steel said: “The opportunity to bring one of the city’s best-loved and home-grown brands to its most important and iconic building was just too good to miss. We are delighted to be part of this regeneration of forgotten parts of Lancaster Castle and look forward to welcoming visitors and long-standing customers to our new hub. We will continue to operate The Hall and The Music Room alongside The Kitchen, drawing on our experience to rotate the team as appropriate. We aim to make this the best speciality café in a major heritage attraction in the country so it’s an exciting time for Atkinsons, for the Castle and for Lancaster as a whole.”
The extensive conservation works undertaken at Lancaster Castle over the last 2 years have opened up the historic kitchen courtyard and access to the King’s Evidence and Male Felons Towers beyond. Part of the curtain wall has been lowered to restore the original sightlines to the Priory and a new covered cloister walk uncovered. A new teaching suite and gallery space have also been created together with a sweeping new piazza in the lower courtyard.
Commenting on the appointment of Atkinsons to run the new Visitor Café, Duchy CEO Nathan Thompson said: “We are always very keen to support local entrepreneurs and partner with the very best in class. Atkinsons is one of Lancaster’s many success stories and as a family-owned business their ethos and values are closely aligned to our own. We are delighted that they want to play their part in the regeneration of Lancashire’s most important heritage asset and look forward to working with them in the years ahead.”
Atkinsons began in 1837 as J Atkinson & Co. Their Grasshopper Specialist Tea Warehouse was originally situated on Castle Hill for many years before moving to the current address on China Street. After nearly 170 years of trading, The Steel family took over the business in 2005 and since then have built up a thriving coffee quarter in Lancaster opening first The Music Room on Sun Square and then The Hall adjacent to the original retail outlet on China Street. In 2016 the family built a state-of-the-art eco-roastery between the orginal shop and The Hall where it expertly roasts a wide range of ethically sourced coffee beans.