Future secured for Stratford Greenway cafes

A pair of railway carriages converted into independent Stratford-upon-Avon cafes will continue serving cyclists and walkers at a popular country park after securing new lease agreements.

Bobby’s Café and Milcote Café serve visitors at opposite ends of the 5.3 mile Stratford Greenway, one of Warwickshire County Council’s ten country parks and greenways.

The scenic trail is popular with walkers and cyclists and acts as a quiet corridor for wildlife.

Extended lease agreements have been signed with WCC, through its managing agent Warwickshire Property Management Ltd (WPM), which will see the innovative cafes remain at their current sites for at least five more years.

The carriages have been on the greenway for around two decades, but both owners have been involved for less than three years.

Dave and Helen Spink, who live in Oxhill, recently took over the reins at Bobby’s Café and left behind their careers in the online retail sector.

It is the couple’s first foray into hospitality, and their teenage son and daughter are both also working in the café.

The café offers artisan coffee, curated menus of local produce, wine and hosts an array of events, from wine and whiskey tasting, to live music and film nights.

Dave said: “The business was previously run by three women and they have designed a unique destination for people that like something a little bit quirky and different.

“We’ve been running Bobby’s for over a month now with both children involved day-to-day, so it is a real family business.

“The new lease gives us a certainty and we hope that five years will lead to 10 years. Everyone has made us feel very welcome and we are looking forward to our future here.”

Meanwhile, at the other end of the greenway, Keith Cottam has been running Milcote Café since the summer of 2021.

He lives in Long Marston and bought the café after ringing up the former owner to ask if they had a job for his daughter. The father and daughter duo now run the popular café together.

The business has seen significant year-on-year growth in turnover since Keith took over and has benefitted significantly from the new homes being built at Long Marston.

“I ran a café previously at Warwick Parkway but when the lease ran out there, I was looking for my next opportunity,” Keith said.

“It’s a really busy greenway and it’s a great place to do business. I’ve invested a lot of time and money in the space, including support from the Council for more benches outside and a ramp for disability access.

“To have a new lease secured now is really good news. I have a few ideas for expansion up my sleeve, including an extension – which would be a waiting room of sorts for the railway carriage.

“The business is going in the right direction and it’s great for customers to have two cafes to visit at opposite end of the greenway.”

WPM is part of Warwickshire Property & Development Group (WPDG), which manages lettings on hundreds of Warwickshire County Council-owned properties.

Mandeep Padan, Asset Manager at WPM, said: “Stratford Greenway is a lovely location to be able to get outside, exercise and socialise.

“Bobby’s Café and Milcote Café provide a fantastic service to cyclists and walkers at the greenway, and they are in the perfect position to visit both in the middle of a long walk or cycle ride.

“It’s fantastic to see these two catering and hospitality businesses thriving and we are pleased to have sealed this deal to help them continue to grow and develop.”

Councillor Heather Timms, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture, said: “Securing this long-term lease supports both cafes to develop and expand their businesses in the most fabulous setting.

“Partnering with local businesses to make the most of the vibrant opportunities at our Country Parks and Greenways brings so many benefits: it enhances the experience for visitors, draws more people to our parks, supports the businesses involved, and can create community hubs where local people can meet and connect.

“Bobby’s and Milcote are lovely cafes that are highly popular with the local community, so offering this long-term lease makes perfect sense. I hope many people will take the opportunity to pop down for a walk or cycle and enjoy some of their snacks and drinks.”

Plan your visit to Stratford Greenway. Find your nearest park or greenway in Warwickshire.