Old Haymarket business owners team up with Top Rope for IWD2022

This time last year when we sat down for a chat with Sarah Lovelock, she was suffering from automotive angst. “I hate the buses,” the owner of Lovelocks told Confidentials in April 2021, as outdoor hospitality reopened and Sarah was left sharing her al fresco space with a load of buses chugging away on the doorstep.

I want it to represent the community that me and my friends are part of, as well as it being a safe space.

Sarah received funding from the Without Walls initiative to improve the outdoor area at Lovelocks coffee shop as part of a wider COVID-19 recovery plan. But along with other businesses in the Old Haymarket area, she was left frustrated by noise and disruptions from the bus hub.

Lovelocks Coffee Shop Liverpool Sarah Lovelock Old Haymarket 1 Pic Va
The new Lovelocks coffee shop on Old Haymarket Image: Confidentials

“For three years we were fighting the buses before they even arrived in 2019, so it seems like it’s been with us forever,” says Sarah today, from her new location just a stone’s throw up from the old cafe. 

“The whole reasoning behind situating the buses there was questionable. Plus, if they’d have succeeded in having part of the hub directly outside the shops then there would have been no loading and unloading for local businesses.”

After some vigorous business and resident campaigning against the proposal, which would have seen buses lined up directly outside the door, the council’s plans have now been reduced to allow for eight bus bays instead of the original 12. On top of that, the new bigger cafe has also afforded Sarah a bit more breathing space.

14042021 Lovelocks Coffee Shop Sarah Bus Hub
Sarah Lovelock's original coffee shop at Unit 6 Image: Confidentials
Old Haymarket Bus Hub Liverpool Lovelocks Council
And that "Bus Hub" Image: Confidentials

The original Lovelocks at Urban Splash’s Unit 6 first opened in 2016, a bijou 16-seater space that somehow managed to host all manner of events, including the Homotopia closing party and a "Punk Pride" gig from Queen Zee that shook the street to its very core. 

When businesses reopened after COVID-19 with social distancing, Sarah says for her it was, “financially terrifying”.

“The cafe and kitchen were so small. I just couldn't make any money, even when I was full and because of social distancing everybody ended up having to wait ages for food.” 

In retrospect, Sarah says she can now laugh about the time someone came in for two sandwiches and had to wait nearly an hour. 

“You can’t run a business like that. So it was either I changed how my business works, or I moved.”

Lovelocks Coffee Shop Liverpool Sarah Lovelock Old Haymarket
Big smiles for launch day in September 2021 Image: Lovelocks

A few things played into her hand to make the move; her lease was up on the old Lovelocks, and then the new building became available which had the outdoor seating she wanted. Plus she was able to use the remainder of her bounce back alone to secure the building. 

“I thought at the time, it’s a massive gamble and I either go for it or I don’t. But I was ready for it. And I was like, okay, I can do this. Then everything else just came together and it’s been amazing.”

There are still niggles that remain from being near the bus hub. The view through to St Georges Hall has been blocked and some of the mature trees that made the area feel like a little square in Montmartre have been removed. But footfall has returned and Sarah can now naturally capitalise on visitors from the adjacent Travelodge.

Lovelocks Coffee Shop Liverpool Sarah Lovelock Old Haymarket 2 Pic Va
Scandi style and an inclusive, welcoming vibe Image: Confidentials

New Lovelocks still has the old style; a mixture of up-cycled furnishings with a relaxed Scandi vibe and an added monstera (cheese plant). Her ethos has always been purposefully inclusive and what she terms as “representative of the city”. That includes her pricing and finding the middle ground. 

“I don't want the pricing to be so high that it would exclude certain people. At the same time, I want to be able to pay the staff more than minimum wage. I also want it to represent the community that me and my friends are part of, as well as it being a safe space.”

The coffee comes via White Bean Coffee, a small local outfit that sells coffee and coffee-related products wholesale. Bread comes from Kensington Bread Company, a community interest company that teaches people who are out of work how to bake.

Savage Cherry Bakewell Ipa Dead Crafty Lovelocks So Coco Top Rope Women Brewers Pic Dcbc
Brewing collab between Dead Crafty Beer, So Coco Rouge, Pretty Vacant, Lovelocks, and Top Rope Image: Dead Crafty Beer Co
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Brewing up a Bakewell tart beer Image: Dead Crafty Beer Co

Lovelocks is one of a few independents that call this hidden quarter of Liverpool home and there’s obviously a strong sense of community here. That bond has now been strengthened with a collaboration between the female business owners of Old Haymarket to celebrate International Women's Collab Brew Day

Organised by Dead Crafty Beer Co, the owners of So Coco Rouge, Pretty Vacant, and Lovelocks got together at Top Rope Brewing on 8 March to create a Bakewell tart IPA inspired by Liverpool legend Lily Savage. Packed full of cherries and gold glitter, ‘Savage’ will be available to buy soon via Top Rope Brewing. 

Read next: Interview: Eddie Kilty - ‘I enjoy doing what I want to do’

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