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Buying a Business

Darlington Café owner swapping the main course for the golf course

Darlington café owner Stephen Valente is selling his local business to spend more time improving his 14 handicap at the Durham City Golf Club, where he’s now Senior Captain.

About Café Valente

Stephen, 71, who has owned and managed Café Valente since 2006, started his catering career with his family’s business when he was 17 years old.  He started his working life in Bishop Auckland with one ice cream van, building it up to nine ice cream vans and a factory. 

He bought his first café in Hartlepool, opened Visions Wine Bar and went on to his biggest adventure building Newton Grange Hotel in Durham City, which he ran for 10 years, before selling to a large brewery. It was at that point that he decided to buy Wade’s coffee shop and bistro which he owns and runs as Café Valente with his wife Dorothy and a team of dedicated staff.

Stephen is now planning to retire, swapping the lunchtime rush for the fairway. He is selling the café with business broker Hilton Smythe to concentrate on his role as Senior Captain at Durham City Golf Club.

Stephen has been an enthusiastic golf player since he was 18 years old and although he has thoroughly enjoyed building up Café Valente, a thriving business in a busy shopping centre and, after fifty plus years in catering and hospitality, he feels now is the time for him to relax and enjoy planning holidays and golf tournaments.

He has put the business on the market, hoping that Hilton Smythe will find the perfect new owners for the business he has built up.

Why buy a café?

Cafés are very popular and in our recent findings, we have seen that cafés & tea rooms were the most popular business type to be bought in 2018.

People are buying cafés because of the reliability of repeat trade and a community and trust that has already been built up. Rising trends like Afternoon Teas are bringing people to cafés and tea rooms with niche menus. Serving the likes of hot meals with those linked to certain areas makes a local café thrive and compete against big brands. For instance, it’s in the cafés you’ll find a Lancashire Hotpot or Tatty Hash to grab on your lunch, along with homemade sandwiches to cakes and pastries at more affordable prices and why more and more consumers are opting to support the local café .

Cafés provide a great opportunity to suit individuals’ visions as you can be creative in how you set up your café, from themed decor to a combined business, making a café into a part gallery or quirky cocktail bar. It is no surprise that many people who have considered being a pub landlord are now looking at cafés for sale as Britain ditches the pint in favour of the cappuccino

Does owning a café suit you?

Café owners are from all types of backgrounds, from retirees looking to buy for a change of lifestyle to those wanting to escape the daily office grind and professional caterers wanting a chance at owning their own eatery. You don’t have to have qualifications or be a professional caterer mind, as you can purchase a business and hire somebody to run it daily. But of course for those wanting to be more hands-on, a café can make a fun lifestyle of putting together unique food menus, building rapport with local customers to getting more inspired and involved in baking and cooking.

If you’re a creative, you can buy a café and revamp. You may see one that has just what you’re looking for in decor etc. or you could find one with the perfect location, great equipment but see a vision. Buying a café to build your vision, putting your creative project skills to use could be just what you’re looking for in a lifestyle change – and of course this will all help drive more excitement and trade as people really appreciate a brand/establishment makeover. You could even run an open day for the new look and feel, celebrating the change of hands. 

Why our CEO personally recommends Café Valente

Gareth Smyth, CEO of Hilton Smythe Group, said: “Stephen has worked hard and created something special with Café Valente. I’m sure the people of Darlington will be sad to see him hang up his apron, but they’ll be happy to hear he’s going to enjoy his retirement.

“Stephen has done a fantastic job building up Café Valente as a business, and it will be a great investment for anyone looking to run their own café. It is in a central location and is well-loved by locals. I would say it’s an absolute hole-in-one.”

Stephen Valente said: “I’m sad to be selling Café Valente, because it’s been my life for the past 13 years, but Hilton Smythe is being incredibly supportive in finding a new owner. With the team organising the sale, I can start to relax and plan an enjoyable retirement.

“When I was younger my handicap was only nine but now it’s 14 and I want to concentrate on getting it back to single figures.”

5 things to consider when buying a café

With café culture dominating the food and drink market in Britain the number of coffee shops in the UK is rising, ​we’re becoming a nation of coffee connoisseurs, last year in Britain, £4.3bn was spent on coffee​. If you are thinking of buying a caf​é then you must read our blog and the 5 things to consider when buying a cafe!


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