Empty shop’s new lease of life

NEW OUTLOOK Deborah Sykes of Bailey's Caf� in Dewsbury which is expanding. (d533f308)
NEW OUTLOOK Deborah Sykes of Bailey's Caf� in Dewsbury which is expanding. (d533f308)

A popular town centre café has revealed plans to expand by taking over a shop unit which has stood empty for almost a year.

Work began this week to get the former Bon Marché store in Dewsbury ready for the Bailey’s Café team to move in.

The café currently occupies the floor above the shop, but is expected to be trading from both floors within a month.

Owner Deborah Sykes said: “The business has been going for about 80 years and I just thought we’d carry on with this up here.

“I suppose we always thought it would be nice to have a ground floor location because of lot of people can’t manage the stairs, but we didn’t think we’d ever really get the chance. When the shop below came up it was unbelievable.”

In January 2012, Bon Marché owner The Peacock Group went into administration.

A buyer was found for the national clothes chain, but they decided to close the branch in Market Place.

Mrs Sykes asked her landlord if there was any chance of taking on the empty shop – but it seemed they had been beaten to it.

She said she was thrilled when they got back in touch a few months ago to say the unit was available after all.

With the extra space, the business hopes to attract a wider range of customers.

“We’ll still do the traditional meals which Baileys is renowned for, but I think Dewsbury needs somewhere to come in for a nice coffee and cake,” said Mrs Sykes. “There’s nowhere else that does that really apart from the mills over in Batley.”

The aim is to keep Bailey’s running upstairs as normal throughout the renovation work downstairs.

It did close yesterday while a dumb waiter was installed, but that should be the only day if all goes to plan. Mrs Sykes said: “We’re hoping to have it ready in time for Spirit on March 16 so we can get involved in that.”

When the expansion is complete, Mrs Sykes and her seven-strong team will be joined by her husband Christopher. The business also hopes to take on more staff as it gets busier.

Mrs Sykes, who has run the café since November 2007, said: “When I took over, everything was up and running. I just learnt the ropes and carried on. “Now it’s down to us and what we put in, and it’s got to work.”

• The team is looking for old photographs of Dewsbury to display in the café. Anyone with pictures to share is asked to call in to see Mrs Sykes or another member of staff.