Popular Northumberland cafe, The Running Fox, set to expand with opening of fourth premises
Renovations are well underway on what will be the fourth Running Fox cafe in Northumberland.
The Longhoughton site will be its largest so far, with seating for up to 40 inside as well as a lovely outside seating area.
It is hoped to open in June, complementing its existing cafes in Felton, Shilbottle and Longframlington.
“We’re so excited to be opening in Longhoughton, and the opportunities it creates to grow and develop the Running Fox further,” said owner Kris Blackburn
“We are making great progress with the building work and refurbishment of this site. We hope to fully open in June, if all goes to plan.”
For those who can’t wait, it is hoped to have bakery goods available for takeaway from around May 17.
It will also act as an online distribution hub, while the extra space will be used to create a bigger retail area for selling local products.
"It’s fair to say that we would never have considered this pre-Covid, but ordering our products online for collection or delivery has been hugely popular over the last year,” admitted Kris.
The bakery has already moved from Shilbottle into the brand-new kitchen in Longhoughton
“The Running Fox took over responsibility for The Farriers Arms which adjoins the Shilbottle coffee shop in September 2020,” Kris explained. “One of the reasons we did this was that during the day, we could make use of the space in the bar for extra seating.
“The bar will open again every evening at 5pm, hopefully bringing a little bit of ‘normal’ back to the village too.”
“To be honest, the decision to open a fourth venue wasn’t planned at all,” admitted Kris. “It was by chance that George F. White Estate & Letting Agents contacted me and asked if I would be interested in looking at the site.
"When I went to have a look, it was too good an opportunity to miss. It’s just in a perfect location, in a beautiful village and importantly, it had the space we desperately needed for our bakers.
“Another factor that influenced this decision was that we qualified for a European Funding Grant, which will help cover the refurbishment of the site.”
The Running Fox all started in 2011 with the opening of the first coffee shop in Felton.
“My vision was to offer great quality handmade bakery products with a friendly and welcoming service, and this vision remains the same today,” said Kris.
However, the business model has been tweaked to survive the pandemic period, with a new online service, Click & Collect and deliveries.
“The past 12 months have been extremely difficult,” said Kris. “Felton and Longframlington remained open the whole time, but unfortunately Shilbottle closed for several months and some staff were furloughed.
“To survive, we had to change our business model and adapt, re-invention has been key.
“We have gone from strength to strength with the amazing support of our lovely customers, a dedicated team and a growth in popularity of the area.
“Once we have opened the new Fox in Longhoughton, there aren’t any further plans for expansion, but you never know, watch this space!”