Station café still on track - PICTURES

YOU are still invited to desist from using your mobile phone in Grindleford Station Café – and it's probably still best to avoid asking for alterations to the full breakfast.

And, should you arrive on a cold morning and fancy standing in front of the fire along with your eight colleagues, as the original cardboard notice dating back more than 30 years says: "If you want to be a fire guard, join the fire brigade."

Philip Eastwood, the owner of the caf and the writer of the internationally famed notices, died just over a year ago and for many in Sheffield there was considerable alarm about the future of the region's most idiosyncratic – and for many, most loved – Peak District caf.

Don't worry. The caf will continue as it always has, with vast cups of tea, monster breakfasts, pinned up customer advice directives and, perhaps most importantly, Phillip Eastwood in charge.

"It would have killed me to see it sold to someone else," says Phillip, 20-year-old son of Philip Eastwood senior. "It was my dad's life."

Along with caf manager Tim Jeffries, the staff opened the caf the day after Philip senior died and it's continued to open every day since.

Phillip junior was a year into a business management degree in Leeds when his father died but he immediately decided to pull out of the course and take on the caf instead. "I had a lot of support from customers. People were asking me to keep it running."

Apart from his business course, Phillip has also given up his sporting plans, at least for the moment. (He'd been considering a career in athletics, as a former Derbyshire county sprinter and triple jumper).

But the hard work put in by his dad, and his mother Margaret, who died when Phillip was a child, ensured there was no question in his mind, to the relief of the many station caf customers.

"This place has got more character than any caf I've ever been in," says Graham Henshaw, enjoying a cooked breakfast with his son Adam.

"It's location makes it great for people coming for the outdoors, or just wanting to meet up with friends, and there's no dress code."

Graham's co-breakfaster John Turton arrives with a sea of beans, tomatoes and fried egg. "We like the notices," he says. "They're just a bit of a laugh. If anyone takes them seriously, they probably need to take a close look at themselves."

Phillip will be keeping the notices, he says, and may add a few of his own.

"But I don't think I'll be as good at writing them as my dad," he admits. "He was having a laugh when he wrote them but at the same time he didn't want people walking all over him. He wanted to set his ground rules out."

Phillip is adamant that the caf will retain its traditional menu, its "extremely large portions" and its special atmosphere as "a unique place in a beautiful setting, a place that's stuck in time", as Phillip puts it.

In his business management persona he'll be looking to develop the caf's spring water business (water from a spring in the caf grounds, which is better than Buxton, says Phillip), which he hopes to supply to local shops and companies.

And he's also considering opening the caf in the evening, with a different menu.

"We might possibly open as a bistro," he says, words you may not have expected to hear from a Grindleford Eastwood, perhaps, but Phillip is adamant that the successful formula set up by his father for the daytime trade is fine as it is. "It works now, so there's no need to change."

The Sunday morning breakfast trade is gradually turning to the Sunday lunchtime trade (with equally large plates) and mountain bikers, ramblers and family groups pick up their pints of tea and their fry-ups.

Phillip says his colleagues are already noticing similarities between him and his father, in the way he does business particularly. He notes that he does sometimes "lose his rag quite quickly" and he also has strong views on mushrooms. "I hate them," he says.

And there are no plans for latts or cappuccinos. "We'll stick to milky coffee, as long as the steamers keep working."

On the surface, then, Grindleford caf is the same as it ever was.

Phillip junior looks set to work at the family business as hard as his dad, the fare will remain firmly traditional and traditionally vast.

But somehow you have the impression that 20-year-old Phillip may not strike quite the same authoritarian impression as his dad, who had a certain way of looking at you that meant you wouldn't think of questioning his fireguard or phone or mushroom policy.

There might be a slightly brighter atmosphere, admits Phillip, as he gets back to work.

And there, behind the counter, to confirm the subtle shift in the Grindleford Station caf persona, is one of Phillip's first notices.

"If you want black tea or coffee, please ask for it. We are not psychic. Thanks."

Thanks. I ask you. There'll be : ) symbols next.

What do you think? Add your comments below.


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