A LOCAL coffee chain has opened its first city centre branch.

Caffe Ginevra, which has two outlets in Prudhoe, has opened in a grade II listed tunnel on Newcastle's Pilgrim Street.

The coffee and gelato kiosk is in Alderman Fenwick's House - one of the city's oldest buildings.

"Cities have an expectation of people being too much in a hurry and not quite as friendly, but everyone who comes in is nothing but positive, commenting on the fact it was a tunnel that's now turned into a little coffee place", said owner Anthony Finn.

"The hustle and bustle is a different scale compared to anything we've ever done before. You do feel like you're part of something really busy and much bigger.

"We got a loyal customer base, people love our coffee and come and support us whenever we open somewhere new but there's also a lot of new footfall."

The city centre move for Ginevra comes just as the Reuben Brothers-led regeneration of Pilgrim Street gets underway. Offices, an entertainment hub and a five-star hotel are all planned investment for Newcastle.

Anthony added: "Pilgrim Street is the street that it is now, but this time next year... Everything suggests it's an ideal time for us to get in here and get set up.

"Everything is pointing to it being a good, little spot."

The kiosk also sells made-to-order Sicilian pastries from the former hotel and pub.

"You can't get what we do anywhere else", Anthony said. "It's coming up 10 years and we are going full circle, back to basics. I've never worked harder and never found it tougher."

Cafe Ginevra now has six shops and one unit across the North-East.

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