THE latest generation of a famous retail and equestrian dynasty was on hand to help officially open a new café and bistro.
Charlie Barker, who is just eight months old, turned up on a pony at his family’s flagship department store in Northallerton at the unveiling of the new 1882 Café & Bistro.
The young guest’s father is professional showjumper Paul Barker, who is the great grandson of Barkers founder William Barker.
Charlie’s great uncle, Charles Barker, is managing director of the business, which has been trading in the county town since 1882. The Barker family have been involved with showjumping since the 1950s.
Mr Barker’s brothers, David and William (baby Charlie’s grandfather and uncle respectively), both rode at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
The expanded High Street facility has added an upstairs bistro to the ground floor self-service café and increased in size from 60 to 110 covers. The floor space has almost doubled and no fewer than 22 jobs have been created in the process, 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 a newly-built bridge across Barkers Arcade, which links the High Street with the town’s Applegarth car park.
“We thought that if we were going to do this job, it would be nice to make it part of the main store too,” said Charles Barker.
The major work on the Grade II-listed building was delayed after the discovery of asbestos, as well as structural complications. In the end the process took nine months. It represents an investment of £600,000.
“We’re thrilled with the result,” said Mr Barker. “There are great views of our wonderful High Street. It also marks a return to slightly more traditional waiter/waitress service, although we think the atmosphere is relaxed.
“We want to offer friendly and informal service in a very comfortable setting – it feels more like you are in somebody’s home.”