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Friday, 03 July 2015

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Carlisle's new coffee house has all the comforts of home

The front room of a house in Carlisle has been given the Changing Rooms treatment – by day it’s a coffee shop, by night it’s a living room.

Phil McKay photo
Phil, left, serves customer Carlos Grimaldi

Phil McKay, who is running the coffee house on Scotland Road in Carlisle, is serving freshly ground coffee, smoothies and home baking from the comfort of his own home.

Mr McKay, who also runs the Lakeside Castings Agency, said: “I am good friends with Cru and Ben Fox who run Foxes Cafe Lounge on Abbey Street and we came up with the idea of me opening a coffee shop in my living room.

“I was looking for a way in which I could supplement my income and it seemed like a great idea. In the day I serve coffees and teas and at night I relax in the room and watch TV. It’s dual purpose.

“I haven’t had to do anything to the room other than put some tables and chairs in and inform the authorities.”

A standard lamp stands in the corner of the room, there’s a plant, a fire place, pictures and paintings hanging on the walls, a tartan carpet on the floor, and a stereo playing jazz music. The smell of freshly baked scones greets you when you open the door.

Cru and Ben Fox have been tinkering with Mr McKay’s new coffee machine so he makes perfect lattes, espressos and cappuccinos. He buys all his beans from Watts Coffee Shop in the city centre.

Mr McKay, who is in his late 40’s, has always enjoyed cooking and baking but never wanted to make a career out of it. He said: “My mum was a dinner lady and I used to watch her cooking and baking in the kitchen when I was younger. I like making things from scratch and enjoy cooking for friends.”

The coffee shop, which is open Tuesday to Saturday, is opposite the new Sainsburys in Stanwix.

“I’ve had some lovely comments from customers. I’m not trying to compete with Costas or Starbucks – I just want it to be a friendly place where people pop in,” said Mr McKay, who also casts actors for parts in TV shows, commercials and films.

Earlier this year he cast extras for Coronation Street when they filmed in the Lakes.

He said: “I run acting workshops at the Swallow Hilltop Hotel once a month. One of my recent successes was a lad called Chris White who had no acting experience.

“He was so good he landed a leading role in a vampire film called Bloodless.”


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