A £3 sausage sandwich and a mocha coffee might not seem like much of a revolution, but they’re very much the start of something big here in Redditch.
I’m at the Arrow Valley Lake visitor centre as a guest of Rubicon Leisure, the ‘arm’s length’ company set up by the council last year which for the last seven months has been running the borough’s leisure facilities.
These include community centres, the Abbey Stadium, Palace Theatre, Pitcheoak Golf Course, Forge Mill Needle Museum and yes, the lakeside visitor centre.
Behind the scenes there’s been a lot of activity and now, with summer fast approaching, Rubicon is putting on a public face and beginning to shout about what has to be one of the most under appreciated locations in the town.
The Visitor Centre is in a brilliant location with glorious tree-lined lakeside views – stick it in the Alps and it would be packed out.
Stick it in Redditch with thousands of people on its doorstep and folks just push on past.
But maybe all that is changing.
Inside it’s been given a lick of paint and the cafe has been smartened up under new manager Hayley Price with an attractive – and surprisingly affordable – menu, including new this week, breakfast.
But don’t expect a ‘Greasy Joe’s’ full English, we’ve got a bacon sandwich, the aforementioned sausages (£3), beans on toast (£1.50) and for a true Scot, porridge at £1.75.
There’s croissants if you want to go continental (£1.10) and a range of competitively priced Italian-type coffees. I went for a Mocha, £2.70 for a large mug, and was reliably informed the hot chocolate, also £2.70 for a large, is spot on.
At the insistence of Rubicon I also tried one of their ‘pudding’ coffees, an Affogato, which at £3.10, was delicious.
Managing director John Godwin says much of what’s been achieved is a direct result of feedback from residents.
“We’re listening to our customers, and they told us they want approachable staff, good customer service, clean, well presented premises, fun activities and somewhere that’s safe,” he said.
There’s lots in the pipeline too including water activities, a facelift for the exterior, and a move to barbecues with blankets when autumn rolls in.
At other locations like the Abbey Stadium they’re talking aroma therapy and saunas, a possible extension at the Palace Theatre, and adventure golf at Forge Mill.
The hope is to get everything up and running smoothly in three years.
“We have good people doing lots of good things and they have skill sets and the ability to really make a difference,” he said. Our aim is to be the premier provider of leisure and cultural services in North Worcestershire.”