We visited the hidden hole-in-the-wall café serving coffee and donuts that used to be a rusty garage

Making inspired use of vacant spaces surged during the numerous lockdowns the nation found itself in.

After many attempts to work from home, battle with the family for the tiny box office in the house – if you were even lucky enough to have one – people got creative. Instead of looking at the old rusty shed as just an old rusty shed, spaces like those were transformed in to home bars, workshops, offices and basically anything anyone could think of.

For business owners new and old, getting creative soon became a life line while their hands were tied and trade was ground to a halt. It’s fair to say that the creativity that flourished during trying times seems to have continued on after lockdowns are thankfully over, as more and more hole in the wall type business appear on our high streets and surrounding areas.

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Hidden away inside an old garage by Avenham Park is a cozy little coffee shop, one that could be easily missed. But once discovered you’ll never look back. We’ll let you in on the secret – Holy Grounds can be found just off Winckley Square on Ribblesdale Place.

The rustic looking building in Preston is quite literally a hole in the wall, neighboring a vicarage on the edge of Avenham Park. The location alone is more than enough to sell this place, it’s different and interesting, and when I went to down to grab a coffee and sweet treat, I soon found myself questioning why it took me so long to venture this way.

Little sign outside the hole in the wall cafe near Avenham park

Cutting through Winckley Square gardens towards the side entrance to Avenham Park I saw the garage doors open, enticing customers with a heavenly smell of donuts and coffee. Walking up to the counter filled with four kinds of artisan donuts- strawberry cheesecake, Biscoff, chocolate orange and peanut butter – I spotted Phoebe Smith, sister of the owner of Holy Grounds, who was happy to explain to me where this little gem had popped up from.

Phoebe Smith runs the café with manager Isla

Phoebe Smith runs the café with manager Isla

“This is actually the garage of the vicarage next door so my sister is the vicar’s wife and lives in the vicarage and she wanted to use this space as a little business,” she said.

“The business is separate from the church so it’s its own thing. The name Holy Grounds is a bit of a play on words, holy ground being the garage of the vicarage, but also hole in the donuts and then grounds as in the coffee. “

While working behind the small counter, Phoebe has been able to see many people come and go in the area. Since opening over a year ago, she says there are still so many people discovering the coffee shop.

“Preston has been really welcoming, we didn’t know what the market was going to be like I guess. I mean, there’s not a specialty coffee shop in this corner of Preston,” Phoebe said.

“It was nice to give that a go and then people are still discovering us, I think because we are so hidden. When we’re shut it is literally a garage so you wouldn’t even think when you go past it- there’s no exterior signage.

Since opening over a year ago, Phoebe and the team say the community has been so welcoming

Since opening over a year ago, Phoebe and the team say the community has been so welcoming

“It’s quite fun hearing stories of how people heard and came across us. Being next to Avenham park we get all the dog walkers the families so that helps and then the students as well often walk down from Newman just down the road here on their breaks .

“We get some people from town, but it’s kind of mainly the people sitting in the park in the local offices nearby as well. I think when you open any new business, there’s always a bit of a risk.

The counter and menu boards are simplistic but welcoming

The counter and menu boards are simplistic but welcoming

“You never always quite know how people receive a new business so we were kind of overwhelmed in a nice way, like how quickly things took off. Social media kind of skyrocketed quite early on, which is how we got became a bit more well known and then everyone just seems to love the donuts.”

A brief chat with Phoebe made an already wholesome little spot all the more gratifying to shop at. Having eyed up a Biscoff glazed donut I decided to grab a quick coffee and a treat to have on my journey back through the square.

Flat white and Biscoff donut from Holy Grounds coffee shop

Flat white and Biscoff donut from Holy Grounds coffee shop

Despite its compact nature, the counter, menu board and minimalistic décor worked perfectly, the exact spot to visit before or after a stroll in the park. Service with a smile is exactly what you get here which makes the journey away from the busy high street, away from the big chain brands all the more worthwhile – and it helps that the coffee and donuts are pretty exceptional too.

Places like Holy Grounds are kinds of business that just make you smile, and I had a spring in my step, knowing not only had I supported a local business, but I’d had a nice chat too. If ever you find yourself in need of a little pick me up, head on down to Winckley Square and find this little hole in the wall spot- you won’t regret it.

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