The word is spreading about the Rock Cafe at St John’s Church in Haydon Wick, with one visitor to the influential TripAdvisor website describing it as ‘a hidden gem in the heart of the community,’ writes Phillip Eagle.
It’s a four year venture into catering with the aim of providing first class service, high-quality food and a warm welcome – all delivered at unbelievably low prices, inside the church itself.
Rock sounds like a trendy reference to modern pop, but the name actually derives from the initials of Refurbishment of the Church Kitchen.
Whatever its origins, it’s a success story which is amplified each week as customers come through the doors in increasing numbers.
The volunteer staff are mostly members of the church, who give up their Fridays and Saturdays to provide value to all who come.
They arrive early on Friday morning to take down the needs of a church and replace them with the tables, chairs, table-clothes and all the trappings of a bright, clean and welcoming cafe.
The menu is varied and the portions generous, so no-one goes hungry.
Nor do they go away much poorer as the prices reflect not only the voluntary labour force but the honest attempt to give good value for money. In a desire to keep up to date with modern ideas of fast food – though not too fast – the latest cookery equipment has been introduced.
There are no short cuts to give value, and only the best ingredients are brought to the kitchen.
Any profit made is either re-invested in the cafe or given to a charity. The church does not keep any of it.
“People often comment on the low prices here,” said Canon Raymond Adams, a firm supporter and an occasional customer.
“But they comment even more on the warm and welcoming atmosphere – and that is something money cannot buy.”
You can check the cafe out yourself on TripAdvisor, or find out more at stjohnshaydonwick.org.uk