RAMSBOTTOM’S popular Chocolate Cafe is hoping to entice customers back after lockdown with a new menu and a head chef who you may recognise.

Ian McDonald was a participant in Bake Off: The Professionals last year where he represented his Ramsbottom restaurant, The Lounge, with fellow chef Andrew Robinson.

Ian has now moved to become head chef at the Chocolate Cafe on Bolton Street which has just celebrated its first week of reopening following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Kate Lockett, marketing manager at the Chocolate Cafe, said: “We opened on Wednesday, April 14, for outdoor service and it has been absolutely amazing so far.

“All our tables have been full the whole day and it’s just been so nice to get back to what we do best and see everything reopen again.”

Established over a decade ago, the Chocolate Cafe combines an upstairs cafe with a chocolate shop and mini chocolate factory where you can see the team work at creating their range of award-winning chocolate.

The cafe’s new menu features all kinds of delicious treats from French-style omelettes to hot ciabattas, with the eggs Benedict already proving a big hit.

“Ian has created the menu himself and he has made it a lot more high-end than it was before” said Kate. “With the cafe being closed for most of the last year he has not really had the chance to show what he can do.

“Everyone seems to be dying to be back out again and everyone has loved it so far.

“Thankfully the weather has been on our side too so business has been booming.”

The cafe has a limited number of outside tables and staff have worked closely with the council to utilise the space safely. Each table is two metres apart, staff wear masks at all times and all surfaces are regularly cleaned.

“We will be back open inside on May 17 but the thing about being open outside is that everyone walking past has been really intrigued about what is going on and been remarking on how good the food looks,” Kate added.

“We were closed for six months so to be able to bring the staff back has been really nice - they’ve been chucked in at the deep end but have done really well after a long time on furlough.”