Ten years ago, the Huffington Post published an article titled 'The Coming Vegetarian Revolution', which prophesied that "sooner than you might think, this will be a vegetarian world." Fast-forward to 2019, and a blossoming bistro in Wigan serving up award-winning plant-based grub agrees.
The Coven, based at The Courts in the town centre, has been described as a "hidden gem" by numerous reviewers lauding the restaurant's wonderful food, colourful menus, and friendly atmosphere.
Serving up everything from juices and smoothies to Buddha bowls, cakes, and veggie burgers, The Coven has been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence four years in a row. And with its eight members of staff now settled at their new home - three times as large as their previous premises - the bistro is ready to spread its wings.
"Loads of our customers aren't vegan or vegetarian, but because the food's fresh, made from scratch, colourful, and relatively healthy, we get a lot of positive feedback," said chef and owner Sue Healy (58), who bought the restaurant in 2012. "Word of mouth is big - people all over the country know about us. A man come in off the train especially and said that five people from different stations had told him about The Coven. That's lovely."
Baker Rachel Holmes (27) from Skelmersdale has worked at The Coven since October. "I'd just come back from travelling and I wanted to be a chef," she said. "I've been a vegetarian for seven years, so I emailed Sue and she said that I sounded perfect and it just really worked out. I started in the deep end and kind of fell into baking and it's a passion project now.
"I get a lot of customer feedback; it's lovely, I absolutely love it," Rachel added. "I like the ambience of the restaurant; it's cafe-oriented and we get a lot of regulars who're interested in what you're cooking, so it's really personal. We've got loads of creative people here too, it works really well in The Courts."
Sue, from Ulverston, continued: "It's long hours, but we've got a really good team - we're all close. I want people to feel comfortable and relaxed and those who have dietary requirements to feel safe. I enjoy it. It's me."