Leicestershire is home to a number of quirky restaurants and cafes – and now there’s a new one for diners to discover.
@281 Tea, Coffee, Conversation and Craft has been opened in the converted garage of a semi-detached house in Wigston, and aims to be a hub for the community.
The cafe opened for the first time in January this year, but was then closed due to the coronavirus lockdown, and reopened in July.
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Visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee, tea or even a unicorn hot chocolate, as well as homemade cakes, toasties, graze boards, smoothie bowls and ice cream smash pots.
Plus, for canine customers, there’s always dog treats and fresh water.
Take a look inside with our gallery below
@281 was launched by homeowner Javeria Imaan, after the idea of converting her garage into a business was suggested to her by her father.
Javeria told LeicestershireLive: “I’ve been in various roles and positions, from working in estates and lettings for years then on the road in area development and training which I loved, but I had always yearned to work for myself.
“Previously me and my friend had bought a catering trailer and had dreams of being mobile dessert people, which for one reason or another never worked out. Dad had suggested this idea of converting the garage back in 2015 when I was due to move into this house which my mum left me when she passed on.
“Originally I was horrified – next to my home?! Then, as I continued driving hundreds of miles a day and commuting to and from London weekly as part of the rat race, I realised surely there is more to life – maybe it’s not such a bad idea.”
As well as improving her work/life balance, another important factor for Javeria was providing somewhere for the local community.
“There are no social community places around here any longer,” she said. “The old Royal Oak is now Sainsburys Local, and Potters Carpets (next door) when I was younger used to be a cob shop/bakery and there was a Post Office next to that. Locals would stop for a chat.
“I started looking at how it could work and benefit the community as a whole as well as fulfilling my dream of working for myself.”
Two years after she’d made up her mind to open the cafe, and following planning applications being approved and building work carried out, the doors of @281 were opened – in January 2020.
Javeria says the cafe is in memory of her mother, who ran a newsagent and Post Office, and was well known in the Wigston Magna community in the 1980s and ’90s. The cafe’s logo features her favourite flower – a lily.
As well as welcoming customers during the daytime, prior to the lockdown the cafe also held a number of private events in the evenings, such as book club, crafting evening, psychic evening and curry night, as well as activities for children and carers. Such events are currently on hold.
With social distancing in place, @281 can seat two separate groups (up to a maximum of four people in each group) inside, and outside, there is room from 12 people in the undercover seating area.
Opening hours are currently 10am – 5pm Monday to Saturday.
You can find @281 at 281 Leicester Road, Wigston.