Sheffield shop which starred in TV series becomes new cafe hub of the community

Life is being pumped back into a Sheffield corner shop which starred in a popular BBC television show.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 4:12 pm

Back in Time for the Corner Shop tracked the progress of a family throughout the decades from Victorian era to the present day, presented by former Radio One DJ Sara Cox and historian Polly Russell.

The programme followed the Arden family from Sheffield as they ran the corner shop in Derbyshire Lane, Meersbrook.

But after filming, the shop lay empty and unused.

Back in time the cafe

Now Dan Thornton, aged 34, from Nether Edge has reopened the premises as the Kopi Chai cafe.

Prior to opening the cafe, Dan used his Morris Minor van from which he would serve hot drinks and snacks at festivals and events.

“I was in search of a property to do a project in,” he explained.

“Previously I had an old 1971 Morris Minor van, which had a coffee machine in the back of it, and we used to do festivals and events.

Back in Time Cafe

“But when it came up to the start of the pandemic, it was looking like everything had been cancelled, so it was time to rethink about a different strategy.”

With a lot of businesses closing temporarily or even permanently, starting a new business would seem very daunting to many.

“It did seem like a crazy time sort of, to think about going into business with bricks and mortar,” said Dan.

“That was just on the surface, but if you looked beyond it, it was a really good time because I had lots of time to put into something – there was no work so it was a good chance to create some.”

Back in Time Cafe

Dan explained that landlords in the area were also struggling, so it was a good time to work with them and get a good deal.

“Like a corner shop it's like the centre of the community. It was where everyone met and had a little chat, got their shopping – and got the gossip.

“There’s not as much need for corner shops anymore due to the big supermarkets so it seems to be that a coffee shop is the place where people are starting to hang out,” said Dan.

Until the easing of lockdown restrictions, the cafe was only serving takeaways through a hatch, but was already serving the community well.


“Everyone’s so understanding of social distancing within the queue and respectful of everyone’s space.

“There's a lady who comes down and loves it when there's a queue as that’s the only time she sees people,” said Dan.

It has outdoor seating and will be opening more as further restrictions are reduced.

As well as serving drinks and food, the cafe will also offer sessions outside opening hours by Unity Yoga.

“Little meeting points like this, like it did in the Corner Shop Back in Time, do create those little sparks where people are interested in people, and being with people.

“It’s been really nice hearing people’s memories at the window, telling us how this used to be the place they used to come and buy their sweets, or when they used to come and buy their drinks.

Arden Family

“Sometimes we get people looking for the shop, and they’re surprised there’s a cafe here. It’s kind of sweet, because over the last two years it’s been really run down and a lot of people in the area have been crying out for someone to take it on, and do something with it.”

Back in Time Cafe