Barkers opens new 1882 Cafe & Bistro in Northallerton


Is this equestrian dynasty's new bistro a shoe-in for success?

If your family opened a new cafe and bistro would you want to know where you could park your pony?

Probably not, but then the Barkers are a well-known retail and equestrian dynasty for whom horses are just as important as main courses. Which is why the youngest of the clan, eight-month-old Charlie Barker, turned up on a pony at his family’s flagship department store in Northallerton to unveil their new 1882 Café & Bistro.

The Barker family has been involved with showjumping since the 1950s, with Charlie’s grandfather and great uncle both riding at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. His father, Paul, is also a professional showjumper, while great uncle Charles is managing director of the North Yorkshire department store, which has been trading in the county town since 1882.

The expanded shop recently launched an upstairs bistro to run alongside the ground floor self-service café, taking it from 60 to 110 covers.

The floor space has almost doubled and 22 jobs have been created, bringing the Barkers catering team up to 67.

For the first time, the café is now joined to the rest of the 40,000sq ft store via the bistro, which extends across Barkers Arcade via a new bridge, linking the High Street with Applegarth car park.

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‘We thought that if we were going to do this job, it would be nice to make it part of the main store,’ said Charles.

Work on the grade two listed building was delayed after the discovery of asbestos, as well as structural complications. In the end the process took nine months and an investment of £600,000.

‘We’re thrilled with the result,’ said Charles. ‘We want to offer a friendly and informal service in a very comfortable setting. It feels more like you are in somebody’s home.’

The kitchen is run by chef Pablo Bouza-Causier. Originally from Uruguay, he knew at the age of 16 he wanted to be a chef.

He trained and worked in France, Sweden and Spain before marriage brought him to England and the award-winning Bay Tree at Stillington, near Easingwold.

Catering manager Paul Nicholls said: ‘Pablo brings a wealth of experience to the cafés and restaurants we run at Barkers, and he is currently helping to train a new generation of keen young staff.’