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Success on the menu as Cleveland Cafe owners celebrate 21 years at the helm

Success on the menu as Cleveland Cafe owners celebrate 21 years at the helm
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The owners of the Cleveland Cafe on Lord Street in Southport are crowning 21 years of running the much-loved venue – and they have lots to celebrate.

Paul and Jeanne McDonald took over the traditional cafe on 1st February, 2001, and have seen many changes since then.

They are proud of keeping their business going during the Covid pandemic and lockdowns.

They have another big reason to celebrate 2022, as this August also brings their 40th wedding anniversary.

And the four-day Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June is another reason why there’ll be lots of flag-waving this year.

Jeanne remembers the day they first saw the Cleveland Cafe, when it was for sale – and instantly fell in love with it.

They have kept all its best features while also making it a home from home.

Old nostalgia pictures of Southport adorning the walls have become a real talking point as regulars share memories. An extensive collection of weird and wonderful teapots on the shelves has to be seen to be believed.

Paul McDonald with daughter Steph, then aged 7, outside the Cleveland Cafe on Lord Street in Southport in 2001


A teapot at the Cleveland Cafe on Lord Street in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media



Paul McDonald at the Cleveland Cafe on Lord Street in Southport in 2001

Jeanne said: “We just saw it advertised in the newspaper and thought we would give it a go!

“We have not really changed the cafe much over the years. People love it as it is.

“We have lots of old Southport pictures on our walls which people really like. They show things like the old railway, the pier, the old Ribble Bus Station that used to be next door – that gets talked about a lot.”

Regulars know just what they’re getting at the Cleveland Cafe. Great home cooking is guaranteed.

The Cleveland Big Breakfast, in fact all of their breakfasts, are legendary.

Paul McDonald has a huge reputation for his home-made pies, including meat and potato pie and steak pie.

They’re pleased to be back.

Keeping the business going through the Covid pandemic, and the series of lockdowns, was their most challenging time in the past 21 years.

As the cafe temporarily closed, Paul at one point took on a job as a delivery driver.

The couple are delighted to see the Cleveland Cafe open once again – and are looking forward to a busy few months ahead.

Paul and Jeanne McDonald at the Cleveland Cafe on Lord Street in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

The cafe really benefits from its location close to Victoria Park and the town centre, enjoying lots of custom from visitors who have been to enjoy big events such as Southport Flower Show or Southport Air Show.

The Cleveland Cafe reopening is great news for local veterans too with the cafe hosting events for SSAFA (the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) 10am-11.30am every Tuesday. If anyone has been in the Armed Forces then these weekly events are there for them.

Paul said: “It was tough going during the Covid lockdowns.

“Constantly opening and then closing again wasn’t the best.

“We tried to do a take out service during the last lockdown, but it didn’t work for us.

“Lockdown was really tough, but we survived.

“We didn’t have any outstanding debts facing us. We were fortunate in the position we were in.

“We’re glad to be back.”

One initiative which did make a positive difference, was the Eat Out To Help Out initiative.

Paul said: “When the Government brought in their Eat Out To Help Out scheme, we were chocka!

“We never changed our prices like some places did, we kept ours the same.

“We had social distancing in place back then, so had to remove half the tables and chairs.

“Because we were setting up alternate tables, it was so busy it felt like we were in the middle of the Southport Air Show and Southport Flower Show all rolled into one!

“We had queues of people waiting outside to get in.”

Now that Covid-19 cases are falling across the UK, and lockdown restrictions are being rescinded, life is steadily getting back to normal.

Jeanne McDonald said: “Since we have reopened, we have been really busy! We can’t complain.

“We have seen a lot of regulars coming back in, but also a lot of new faces coming in too.

“We are in a great little spot here.

“We are in a full row of shops, bars and our cafe now at this end of Lord Street now. All the empty units have been filled, which is really good. The ‘Western Quarter’ of Lord Street is doing well!”

Serious investment is coming into the area.

A few doors away from the Cleveland Cafe, work is taking place to create Southport’s first new Wetherspoon Hotel in Pavilion Buildings, on the corner of Lord Street and Coronation Walk.

Earlier in February new owners of the historic former Garrick Theatre / Mecca Bingo building just a few yards away revealed their exciting plans for the site, saying that “a theatre and performance space will be at the heart of our plans”.

The magnificent art deco building was built in 1932 and once hosted world famous stars of stage and screen including Julie Andrews, Laurel and Hardy and many others.

Jeanne McDonald said: “I think the new plans for the Garrick Theatre site are going to be brilliant. I think what they are planning is going to be really good for the town.

“It is a really beautiful building.

“The people behind it are really passionate about the project.

“I think it is really exciting.”

After two years of lockdowns and cancelled events, Southport is bouncing back in style this year.

Huge regional events such as Southport Flower Show and Southport Air Show are making much-anticipated returns for 2022, after a three year absence. It is great news for Cleveland Cafe.

Jeanne McDonald said: “The big events are all coming back to Southport this year – it’s going to be crazy!

“We are also really looking forward to the four day Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this June.

“We have already ordered our royal bunting.

“All the businesses along this part of Lord Street are looking forward to joining in the celebrations.

“I am really looking forward to the Jubilee! Some of our older generations, especially, will really appreciate it.

“We are planning to do up our windows for the event.

“I am also planning on baking some special Jubilee cupcakes.

“We hope lots of people will come and join us. We would like to say a big thank you to all of our customers, old and new, for supporting us over the past 21 years.”


The Cleveland Cafe is currently open 9am to 3pm Tuesday to Sunday, with longer opening hours due this summer, and when popular Southport events take place.

  • The Cleveland Cafe is at 25 Lord Street, Southport, PR8 1RP. Call: 07951583063.

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