Local food - JTO Vintage and The Old Bank Tea Rooms, Helsby
- Credit: Archant
Putting the spotlight on retailers whose business is an important part of community life.
Diane Ormrod never intended to open a tea room. The talented furniture restorer was moving from two units she had at Lady Heyes Craft Centre in Frodsham to the old bank building in Helsby. It was meant to be a new workshop and shop with one or two tables for customers to have tea and cake. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Not long after opening JTO Vintage and The Old Bank Tea Rooms in September 2014, gradually more restored and painted furniture moved out and more tables for people to sit at and eat were brought in.
‘It was just bonkers from day one,’ said Diane. ‘So many people wanted to come and eat here. It was incredible. We’re just a tea room, first and foremost, now and we sell gifts and vintage stock.
‘There’s not much time for my furniture restoration anymore. I can’t quite believe how it worked out. It is really lovely though. I’m so pleased.’
It was her husband, David, who spotted the shop which as well as being a bank had also been a deli before Diane took it on. Today, four women from the village bake cakes and treats and Diane also provides a savoury menu. Each day you’ll find the tea room packed with people from mums with young children to pensioners. They have also established a garden at the back of the tea room.
Diane’s brother, Lawrie, operates his furniture restoration business Grey Fox Crafts from a garage on the site and Helsby Holistics is based in a room above the tea room.
‘It’s been a real treat,’ said Diane. ‘I’m so lucky that the people who work here and the customers are all such lovely people. And I’ve been supported so much by the local community. People come in here to meet up, whether it’s planned or not. Quite often they’ll bump into each other and end up eating together. It’s great to see.’
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