Bikes, dogs and even horses are welcome at Twin Lakes Cafe Velo
Croston is a popular cycling spot, with its rural roads.
So Twin Lakes Cafe Velo, run by bike-mad Jon Back and Damian Fearon, is perfectly placed to welcome cyclists as, not only does it offer a variety of refreshments to quench a thirst, but also allows the free use of tools, sells inner tubes, energy gels, provides a jet wash and has ample bike parking.
Cycling books and magazines are also available.
But it is more than a licensed cafe and cycle hub. Friday and Saturday evenings are a mix of private events and themed live music nights or comedy nights with a Gourmet Burger Bistro alongside.
It also holds monthly bedroom DJ evenings and fund-raisers.
The idea of setting up a cycle cafe was born from a group of friends bemoaning the fact that the majority of cafes that cyclists stopped at during their rides were mostly unwelcoming to people dressed in Lycra and on two wheels.
They found the perfect site in the form of the former brickworks and fishery club house in Brick Croft Lane, which had been shut for more than five years.
After a lot of refurbishment, the establishment opened in April this year.
Jon, 51, says: “One of the reasons we are so successful is because of the location –- we are central to many hundreds of cycling clubs across Lancashire and the surrounding counties. We actively encourage them to visit. In fact, a regular customer has been coming in every day – without fail.
“Cyclists from across Lancashire, south Cumbria, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside have dropped by. It’s not uncommon for people to plan their route to take in a cafe stop with us. Quite a few cyclists who are undertaking the Lands End to John O’Groats route have stopped by.
“The cafe is also attracting many non-cyclists and is fast becoming a favourite place to go with locals from Croston, Bretherton and the surrounding areas frequenting the destination.
“The cafe welcomes the whole community, you don’t have to arrive on a bike. We have even had people visit us on horseback.
“As a venue for an event or a music/comedy evening, the setting by the lakes is unrivalled locally. It’s a sun trap by day and offers the most amazing sunsets.
“We see the cafe as a community resource and are open to any ideas for new or quirky events – such as the Croston Bedroom DJ event we recently hosted.
“Even though we are a tiny business we aspire to establish social responsibility credentials. We’re talking to a charity about a scheme to sell restored pre-owned bikes from the cafe.
“We are viewed by locals as evolving into the alternative venue in the village.”
Having spent seven years living in Italy, Jon is an accomplished barista. He has also imported Italian wine for many years and uses this knowledge to provide expert advice on his Sicilian wines to his customers.
Damian, 48, works part time in the cafe, in between his full time job as a university lecturer in surveying
Alongside getting the cafe up and running and his full time job, he has also just completed a PhD. He looks after much of the administration from staff rotas to accounts. He says: “Running a small business is certainly a challenge. But the rewards are coming as the plans and ideas we are implementing are putting the cafe on the map.”
Jamie Swain, 30, chef, has had an eclectic career including stints in kitchens in Canada and Berlin.
He has devised a gourmet burger menu for evenings and weekend events and will be looking at developing the vegetarian and gluten free options for the cafe.