A BRAND new café, which is hoping to take on the major coffee chains with its "personal" and independent charm, has opened in Durham City.

One of the latest businesses to open in the region, Mr Bojangles, also known as Mr B, has thrown open its doors despite continued lockdown restrictions.

SEE MORE: 5 brand new shops that have just opened in Durham City

The café, which is on Elvet Bridge, began trading just days before national restrictions were brought in, meaning it has had to stay takeaway-only since opening.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Justin Messenger, who founded Mr Bojangles, described how he and his partner, Gemma had "always wanted" to run a café.

The Northern Echo: Picture: JIM SCOTTPicture: JIM SCOTT

He said: "This is something we've always wanted, somewhere nice for people to feel at home to enjoy a cup of coffee, and not be rushed out the door. 

"It's a quaint little place, it's quirky and it's in a lovely part of Durham City, which we've fallen in love with as we've lived here for the past ten years."

The pair, who live in Esh Winning, said food and drink is locally-sourced with firms in Darlington and Ouseburn among the list of suppliers.

Mr Messenger said: "We source our coffee, and food from the local area, it's all fresh produce that we bring in.

The Northern Echo: Picture: JIM SCOTTPicture: JIM SCOTT

"We just want to serve great quality food and great coffee, add some money back into the economy and hire people from the local area."

The café has the capacity to seat several customers at any one time and employs three additional staff to help manage its dine-in offering.

Mr Messenger said: "Obviously we are currently doing takeaway only, but we're about to launch a delivery service covering Durham City."

The Northern Echo: Picture: JIM SCOTTPicture: JIM SCOTT

The café is currently open between Monday and Sunday despite an obvious lack of footfall, but Mr Messenger says it is vital to keep a presence during lockdown.

He said: "We've reduced the hours significantly and this is mainly to keep a presence to show everybody as an independent that we are here.

"We are not a major chain, so we don't have oodles of cash, but we have to keep a presence in the city."

The Northern Echo: Picture: JIM SCOTTPicture: JIM SCOTT

Describing how opening the business during lockdown restrictions had been a "challenge," Mr Messenger said the pair remained determined to keep going.

He added: "It's been a challenge in the past four weeks, everything was on an upwards trend, really good, really positive – but obviously since restrictions, we've taken a slump and then since the national lockdown restrictions, we've taken a further slump, but we understand that."

Graham Soult, who is contracted by the City of Durham Parish Council to help drive footfall into the city, praised Mr Messenger for “pushing forward” despite uncertainty.

Mr Soult, who spearheads the Indie Durham City group, said: “It’s a very complex time to open a business, so all credit to Justin for pushing forward and keeping going.”

  • To find out specific opening times or to contact the venue, visit mr-bojangles.co.uk