'We had to carry on' - Cafe owner on rollercoaster year

Carmel Shiggins outside Dunes Cafe in Waxham Barns.

Carmel Shiggins persevered through a "really tough" year. - Credit: James Weeds

There were heart-breaking scenes as a popular clifftop cafe was demolished following a severe bout of erosion.

Last December Dunes Cafe in Winterton had to be torn down by diggers.

Twelve months on, the owners have persevered and are celebrating after winning an award for their new premises further along the Norfolk coast.

Reflecting on the scenes from December 4 as the diggers moved in, owner Carmel Shiggins said: "It was gut-wrenching.

"When the time came, we couldn't watch it be demolished.

"We were in our fourteenth year and had built it up from practically nothing to a fantastic cafe.

"We no longer had a livelihood.

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"But we had to carry on."

The Dunes Cafe in Winterton being demolished. Picture: Danielle Booden

FLASHBACK: The Dunes Cafe in Winterton being demolished on December 4, 2020. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mrs Shiggins and her family relocated to a premises at Waxham Barn and were able to open once Covid restrictions were eased in April.

Staff at Dunes Cafe.

Carmel Shiggins (centre-right) said she felt "euphoric" when Dunes Cafe won best Norfolk cafe at the East of England Business Awards in November. - Credit: James Weeds

"We're finding our feet again," Mrs Shiggins said.

"The highlight of this year has been how popular this has become."

Mrs Shiggins, who also opened a premises by Acle Bridge, said by the end of August people were queuing from the carpark to enter the cafe.

Following the successful summer, Dunes Cafe was nominated for best Norfolk cafe at the East of England Business Awards.

"Being nominated for the whole of Norfolk was wonderful," Mrs Shiggins said.

At the event, which was held at the Mercure Hotel in Norwich on November 19, Dunes Cafe won in the best Norfolk cafe category.

Mrs Shiggins said: "It felt euphoric.

"All our customers were so happy because they know what happened to us."

The staff at Dunes Cafe.

Gemma Rattcliff, Michael Shigginsm Carmel Shiggins and Francis Ford thanked their staff and loyal customers for their continued support throughout the past year. - Credit: James Weeds

The owner thanked her staff and loyal customers for their continued support.

"We're very lucky," Mrs Shiggins said.

Mrs Shiggins said she has survived a tough year and is excited about moving forward.

She added: "We're learning and adapting all the time and I think that's the basis of being successful.

"You've always got to be looking ahead and not be complacent.

"We're always thinking of ways we can improve the experience for the customers."

Dunes Cafe, which is dog friendly, is open from 9am until 4pm, seven days a week.

The Acle Bridge premises is open during spring and summer.

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