TAKING tea under a fluffy cloud-strewn sky sounds too magical to be true.
The sky is the motto selling this unusual tea room experience. “No matter what the weather outside there is always a blue sky and a smile at The Cake ‘Ole,” emphasises Neil Senior, co-owner of this quirky refreshment stop.
Before launching The Cake ‘Ole in Skipton’s Craven Court shopping arcade, Neil and his partner Richard Wilson worked in the banking industry.
Their introduction to their contrasting career came through Richard’s harboured ambition to run a tea room. “We enjoyed spending time in establishments similar to this and wanted to create something that we would enjoy ourselves,” explains Neil.
Weaving their artistic flair into the decor where an enchanting forest, complete with a 6ft LED blossom tree, beckons make-believers to rub their eyes and question whether they have seen a pink rhino’s head emerging off a wall, Richard and Neil have created a make-believe world where guests feel as though they have stepped into the pages of a fairytale as they sip their tea from vintage crockery. There are even moustached ‘man’ mugs for the lads!
Celebrity shakes Jelly Goulding - which recently attracted an appreciative tweet from its namesake pop princess, Ellie Goulding - Justin Timberflake, Jason De Rolo, Rizzle Twix and Twirls Aloud created using the sweet treats as part of their ingredients - are among the refreshing delights making regular appearances on the menu.
Neil explains they also tweet the celebrity whose name-sake shake is featured that week - and that is how Ellie Goulding knew about Jelly Goulding.
And then there are the cakes. The delightful stack of sponge with every colour of the rainbow in every slice is among the speciality treats baked by Richard who discovered his flair for flour after helping Neil rustle up some cakes for his work colleagues.
Neil explains originally they anticipated creating one rainbow cake per week. “But he makes one a day now,” says Neil.
The cake stands eight inches high and has six layers.
“Food is all about indulgence,” says Neil.
Savoury snacks include fruit toast, paninis and soups and most of the produce is either home-made or sourced locally.
Neil says they didn’t quite anticipate the response they received when they launched the business in May. “It was a bank holiday weekend and a baptism of fire really because originally we thought it would be a quirky little tea room with just us working behind the counter,” he says.
With a little help from social networking, Richard announced the tea room was opening and contrary to the steady flow of customers they were expecting. “We had a queue waiting outside. It was just manic!” recalls Neil.
A few months later and the couple have now taken on extra staff to deal with the demand they are already gaining a network of loyal customers - some have even taken in gifts in appreciation of their enjoyable experience.
But perhaps the most poignant recollection of all was from a customer who handed them a gift and said: “Every time I come in here you always look after me and make me feel welcome.”
Those words gave Neil and Richard great satisfaction and they’ve been overwhelmed, not solely by visitors’ kind gestures, but also by the distance some travel.
“We have people coming to Skipton to come and see us from Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool and that is all through Facebook, seeing pictures posted by their friends,” says Neil.
They’ve also had tourists pop in from far flung places such as Australia and New Zealand and no matter what the weather all will be greeted with a warm welcome and will leave with a lasting memory.
“It’s our life now, it’s our world,” says Neil.
“We are living the dream and it’s more than we ever imagined,” adds Richard.