Stephanie Whalley shines a light on the helpers in these dark days
Consider this article the tip of the iceberg; a mere scratch of the surface of the generosity going on right here in Liverpool.
We’ve got Caz’s Kitchen delivering 500 cakes to local food banks after the government announced it was cutting free school meals and Rough Hand Made bakery donating unsold items to the L6 Community Centre at the end of each day to feed those facing financial troubles.
It’s an initiative designed by the father of three to help feed kids during the school holidays
There’s Salthouse Bacaro and Taste Sandwich Bar supporting the Paper Cup Project, helping provide food and support for homeless people across the city. Then there’s the Rotunda Bistro, recently closed at the hands of COVID but still opening its kitchen to provide free roast dinners to those most in need. Oh, and let’s not forget the lovely Laura of Laura’s Little Bakery - leader of the Donate A Cake campaign, delivering sweet treats to children in need. Or Fika, who have been using their restaurant as a hub for care package donations and 'sustainably full' food boxes in response to the government’s recent measly offering.
In retrospect, it might have been a whole lot more time-efficient to write about the minority of venues not doing their bit to change the tarnished reputation of humanity. But where would the joy in that be? So, in the interest of spreading joy and shining the warm, glowing spotlight on those whose hearts are made of solid gold, we’re rounding up just a few of the cafes and restaurants in the city that are supporting great causes and their local communities.
Let it be known though, reader, that this list is by no means exhaustive.
Not even close.
Situated diplomatically equidistant between Anfield and Everton - homes of Liverpool’s famous red and blue football clubs - Homebaked is the place to be for pre-match fuel on derby day. More than that though, Homebaked is a pillar of support for the local neighbourhood. The Homebaked Community Land Trust is a co-operative bakery, a hub to call home and a community-led housing and enterprise scheme. In true Clark Kent/Superman style, these guys serve up some of the best pies and sausage rolls in the city but are also on a mission to save their local community. Through responsibly repurposing money spent in the neighbourhood, Homebaked is breathing life back into the surrounding area, with ambitious plans to 'regenerate our high street brick by brick and loaf by loaf'.
Homebaked Anfield, 197-199 Oakfield Road, L4 0UF
After wangling a group of volunteers following lockdown 1.0, Sue and Adam Franklin of The Horse & Jockey have been using their pub on the outskirts of the city to do good for the local community. The dynamic duo now work with the Melling Volunteers to offer food donations, batches of hot meals and a listening ear to those navigating the choppy waters of the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named. The Horse & Jockey venue has been transformed into a community kitchen and volunteer meeting spot - the epicentre of more than 300 gold-hearted locals dedicated to packing lunches, whipping up hot meals, picking up prescriptions, managing a support line and running a JustGiving page which now has more than £5,500 pledged.
The Horse & Jockey, Waddicar Lane, L31 1DR
When Lu Ban Executive Chef, Dave Critchley melded minds with Lucy Antal of Alchemic Kitchen, pure magic was always going to happen - especially with Liverpool Independent Delivery Service (LIDS) thrown into the cauldron too. This magic comes in the form of the Knowsley Kitchen Initiative - a forward-thinking collaboration of community organisations, social enterprises and independent businesses with One Knowsley at the helm. The initiative aims to provide the Knowsley borough with a sustainable food network that has public health, access to fresh food and reduced waste at its heart. Lu Ban (amongst others) has been working closely with LIDS to deliver boxes of seasonal produce and fresh bread from Homebaked Anfield, and will continue to do so throughout the pandemic and thereafter. All donations are pumped straight back into the production of these boxes, championing a fair food culture for everyone, regardless of socio-economic status.
Lu Ban, Cains Brewery Village, Stanhope Street, L8 5XJ
With an MBE for services to the food industry and an endorsement from the Partnerships Manager at Claire House Children’s Hospice as its 'biggest supporter from the hospitality sector', it comes as no surprise that Mowgli mother, Nisha Katona has made this list. Front of house, Mowgli is a popular casual dining experience, serving authentic Indian street food straight from the family recipe book. Beneath the edible exterior is The Mowgli Trust - a registered charity which raises more than £500,000 every year for local and regional charities, including The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity. As well as charitable donations added onto each food bill and the sponsoring of a child in need for every full time employee recruited, these guys also run the annual Mowgli Trust Dog Show in collaboration with Claremont Farm on the Wirral. In 2019, the canine catwalk (wait, is that an oxymoron?) raised a whopping £32,000 for Claire House, supporting terminally ill children and the families of children going through end of life care.
Mowgli, 69 Bold Street, L1 4EZ and 3 Water Street, L2 0RD.
Rosa’s has recently joined the ingeniously-named Invisible Chips campaign, where customers can add a portion of ‘invisible chips’ to their order for £2.50. Of course, the invisible chips aren't very filling so if you’re feeling particularly amorous towards a bowl of fries then make sure to order an additional side of visible chips to avoid disappointment. The £2.50 goes towards supporting Hospitality Action - a charity that provides grants, hardship funds and mental health support for those who have lost a job, or are struggling as a hospitality employee in the current climate.
Rosa’s Thai Cafe, Unit 7 Britannia Pavillion Royal Albert Dock, L3 4AD
Continuing the theme of doing good down at the Royal Albert Dock, we also have the swashbuckling, hanging-kebab-swinging cocktail slingers at Smuggler’s Cove who are dedicated supporters of the Alder Hey Children’s Charity. For every item ordered from the children’s menu, the restaurant donates 25p towards the cause, which helps raise vital funds for the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. The hospital is a world-class facility, treating over 330,000 young patients every year. Boy, are we proud to call Liverpool its home.
Smuggler’s Cove, Britannia Pavillion Albert Dock, L3 4AD
If you’ve ever been to Wonton then you’ll already know how damn delicious that 24-hour marinated char siu is. What you might not know though is that Chris Brown - the brains behind Wonton - also owns the Gourmet Social Enterprise Cafe. A once-rundown shack now converted into a community cafe, the Gourmet Social joins financial forces with Wonton to feed Chris’ charitable project, Holiday Hunger. It’s an initiative designed by the father of three to help feed kids during the school holidays; those who would otherwise normally rely on school meals. Working closely with 16 community centres and a number of local food banks, the project has generated somewhere near the milestone of 50,000 packed meals for Liverpool’s most vulnerable little ones since launching in December 2018. That’s not including the £22,000 in cash and £50,000 worth of toys that was raised over the festive period and distributed around the community for Christmas 2020.
Wonton, Unit 4, Central Station, Ranelagh Street, L1 1QA
Gourmet Social, 33 The Marian Square, Bootle, L30 5QA.