Long empty Derbyshire pub reopens as new coffee and cake cafe following renovation

A North East Derbyshire couple have renovated a long empty Bolsover pub, turning the premises into a new cafe specialising in coffee and home-made cake.

By Lizzie Day
Monday, 10th May 2021, 10:39 am

Russell and Michelle Irwin, from Dronfield, came up with the idea to transform the former Old Castle Arms on Woodhouse Lane – which had been sat empty for three years – into the newly opened Just Roll With It Cakes, during the pandemic last year.

The decision came after Russell was made redundant from his job as an airport security duty manager and the couple, who share a sweet tooth along with their six children, took the plunge to set up their own business.

Joint managing director Michelle, is a trained cake maker and decorator and has been baking sweet treats for the last 12 years for friends, family and client commissions.

Just Roll With It Cakes opened their doors to customers on Monday, May 3.

The former pub is now home to the new cafe which specialises in quality coffee and a range of home-made cakes, along with a shop selling baking supplies, a training room for cake workshops, children’s play areas and an outdoor pet’s corner complete with guinea pigs, rabbits and chickens.

Just Roll With It Cakes opened the cafe to the public, in their outside seating area on Monday, May 3 after three months of renovations to transform the old public house into a family-friendly space for cake and coffee lovers.

Joint managing director Russell shared what it was like welcoming their first customers over the Bank Holiday.

"The weather was appalling, we had a good day, it was really quiet but we were above the target that I had set for the day”, he said.

The couple decided to pursue their cake business dreams after Russell was made redundant last year.

"Everybody that came down was local and wished us very well, enjoyed the coffee that they had, enjoyed the cake that they had but looked forward to coming down when it was better weather so they could enjoy the environment more.

"They are positive about what [the business] is doing in the community, that the community needed it.

"Someone said the coffee and walnut cake was the best coffee and walnut cake they have ever tasted.”

The couple will open their indoor cafe area later this month – as Covid-19 restrictions ease to allow groups of six or two households inside hospitality businesses – and hope to start holding demonstrations on cake making and decorating in their new training room in July.

Joint managing directors Michelle and Russell Irwin.

Russell added: "We are looking forward to the 17th when we can have people in to our newly refurbished area which is now a cafe and not a public house.

"We have spent a lot of time and money on it, we believe we have something which is comforting and relaxing.

"Mum and dad can sit down and have a coffee and a cake and if mum or indeed dad wants to go and have a look at the baking stuff they can and a look around the shop at the same time.

"At 53, I'm not looking to become a millionaire it's about creating something that will enrich people's lives through a relaxing environment that delivers quality produce at a reasonable price and ultimately delivers an experience that people will enjoy."

A message from Phil Bramley, Derbyshire Times Editor

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper.