Find out why Christmas was the ideal topping for a Peterborough dessert cafe

A dessert cafe in Peterborough has delivered a tasty trading update that will sweeten the gloomy mood among retailers.

The 70-cover Heavenly Desserts, which opened in Cowgate five months ago, says it enjoyed a hugely successful Christmas period - and its festive success has just been topped off by the award of a five star hygiene rating by council chiefs.

Imran Ali, owner of the franchise cafe, which employs 23 staff, said: "“We've been getting a brilliant response in Peterborough and had a particularly great festive trading period.

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"This was partly because we were open till 11pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and were also open on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

"In addition, because of our proximity to the train station and the city centre alike, we are seeing more informal business meetings being held here, helped by our large seating capacity, free WiFi and ample charging sockets in private booths.

He added: "And yesterday Peterborough City Council's food safety team inspected the Heavenly Desserts store and awarded the business with a food hygiene rating of five.”

He said: "“Peterborough has a growing visitor population and was in need of a community dessert café.

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"Heavenly Desserts is ideal as it offers a luxury experience and artisan dishes."

The cafe is a much-needed addition to the historic Cowgate, which has always struggled to retain footfall. Traders were left distraught a few weeks ago when the council revealed it would not maintain the cast iron planters that were installed as part of extensive measures to help Cowgate shops.

Commercial property solicitor Sanveer Sandhu, who advised Mr Ali on the 10-year lease for the 2,100 sq ft unit, said its success underlined the buoyancy of the dessert cafe market.

Mr Sandhu, of law firm Bray & Bray, said: "The Peterborough restaurant is the 19th store in the UK and the fifth in the East Midlands region.

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“The deal goes to show that by offering a new and unique dining experience, Heavenly Desserts is bucking the national trend of a decline in high street activity and continuing to open stores and create jobs.”

Negotiating the lease involved splitting the unit, a former Chinese buffet restaurant that had been empty for almost three years, into two separate units, through extensive refurbishment.

He said: "The property is situated in an ideal high street location for Heavenly Desserts, but it was clear that a smaller unit would best suit the needs of the restaurant.

“It was a pleasure to assist with the grant of the lease, which means that the store has a place in the city for the next decade.”