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A new bakery and chocolatier has moved into Dafna’s Cheesecake Factory shop

1 month ago

A new bakery and chocolatier has moved into Dafna’s Cheesecake Factory shop

Liverpool bakery and chocolatier Coco Baroque has moved into the former Dafna’s Cheesecake Factory with a promise to honour the legacy of the much-loved shop.

Fans of Dafna’s, which had been a landmark on Smithdown Road for 45 years, were shocked and sad when the owner announced its closure at the beginning of this year. But now the shop is set to reopen this month, with Coco Baroque selling a range of bakes and chocolate made on the premises.

And owners Stephen Ellis and Steve Renshaw are planning to keep the spirit of Dafna’s alive by bringing in their own range of Basque cheesecakes.

The pair started their business in 2012 and Dafna’s became one of their first trade customers.

So Stephen says they didn’t hesitate to accept the offer when owner Helen Bond told them about the closure and asked if they’d be interested in taking it on.

Coco Baroque's Basque cheesecake

“It felt serendipitous with the relationship we’d had with them in the past and the timing, because we were really feeling like we were overdue moving into a shop,” he says.

“We started looking for premises in February 2020, then Covid happened and we looked at a few more afterwards but never really found anywhere that was really suited to us.

“We got the lease on this shop in January and when we first walked into the space, immediately there was that sense that it fitted us, it’s our home.”

For Stephen and Steve, 240 Smithdown Road will be their first premises. They’ve previously sold mostly through farmer’s markets and food festivals, and until this year both baked and made chocolate from home.

Now Coco Baroque will have a bakery and chocolate room to the middle and rear, and a at the front they’ll be serving takeaway coffees and bakes including a range of brownies, cake slices and pastries, with a strong focus on gluten-free and dairy-free.

Alongside that will be shelves stocked with handmade chocolate bars, chocolate pretzels and hot chocolates. And, as a nod to the building’s history, there’ll be a new line added to their existing favourites.

Stephen explains:

“We’ve been selling a Basque cheesecake for about a year so as a tribute to Dafna’s we’re going to expand our range of Basque cheesecakes so people can still come here and get those.”

The extra responsibility of taking over such a well-known shop has been at the forefront of the business partners’ minds since they began work on the refit.

“We’re both very conscious of the legacy, it’s something that’s always there when we talk about what we’re going to do in the future because we want to honour that.

“I spent most of last week up a ladder painting the shop front and every other person who walked past was asking about Dafna’s, was it reopening, were we taking it over, what was it going to be? 

“There’s an enormous amount of interest in what’s happening with the building and I like to think that it’s in good hands. 

“It was definitely a bittersweet thing taking down the old signage, but we’ve kept it, it’s not going anywhere, and if it’s not in the shop then it’ll be in the back where we’ll have the kitchens as a reminder.”

Find out more information about Coco Baroque on their website.

Find all the latest Liverpool news here.

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