The Lounge Cafe is the new community building to be introduced to Old Whit Lane in Salford.
Wesley Piper, 39, builder and taxi driver, has been inspired to build his own cafe on Salford’s Old Whit Lane called The Lounge Café, in hopes to revive the street that has been dubbed as the ‘forgotten estate’.
With the street suffering from many run down and closed shops and the local youth pub shutting down last year, Old Whit Lane has fell victim to a £53million regeneration gone terribly wrong.
When asked what inspired Wesley he said: “I was cooking breakfast and I thought, if I can cook a good breakfast than I could have a café and that’s how it started. Then it was where to have it? I looked around here, these rows of shops have all been empty, been empty for a long time, so I thought, perfect! Lots of parking, two schools, three housing estates, so I then set off to find who owned the properties.”
The Lounge Café will set to be an eatery during the day and will then transform at 3pm to a milkshake bar for local young people to have a place to socialise after school. With also further plans to provide hot meals for the elderly, it will surely be a place for all ages of the community to enjoy and come together again.
Wesley has also made plans to have a social worker come in to the café to help the young people with their lives and get employed in jobs that they otherwise might not get.
Wesley said: “when I was younger this community around here no matter what time of day, was always busy, there was always something going on, now what I’ve noticed in the last few years through doing my taxiing that it’s very quiet, it’s the same amount of people here, but there’s nothing to come here for, and so why can’t we get it back the way it was?”
With a new estate, currently in building progress, Wesley added, “who wants to move into a house when there’s just an empty parade of shops.
“It gets forgotten about a lot of Salford, unless you’re near the Quays.”
Amongst talk there has also been rumours about other shops opening on the parade such as a sunbed or beautician shop, which would also bring even more business to the outlets.
Wesley said: “the residents don’t just want anything opening up around here, they want something that they need, something they’ll use.”
Wesley has transformed an old chip shop to what will hopefully be a thriving café with help from friends and family. But with no funding for the project and just six months’ rent free to renovate the place, it certainly has been a tough few months, but Wesley hopes it will be worth the trouble to see the community flourish again.
By Jessica Dobbs