salford santa's grotto

Salford Santa’s Grotto at Hug in a Mug will open for an extra day due to the high demand, to help their community and keep the café from closing.

The café Hug in a Mug is situated in Walkden and opened five and a half years ago.

Yet, for the very first time this December, they have decided to open up their very own Santa’s Grotto with help from their customers.

Due to the increasing demand of people wanting to visit, the café has chosen to open up for an extra day, which means visits are now available on the 19th and the 21st of December.

A visit to this grotto is booked through an appointment and only costs £3.50 including a free present from Santa.

Image Credit: Jameala Afzaal.

Karen Gardiner, owner of this café, says: “As you can imagine, it’s not profit-making.

“But I’m so proud, apart from me and my partner Ed, everyone else taking part are all customers doing it for free because they just don’t want the café to shut and want it to remain open.

“We are selling a lot of things that have been made, for free, by our crafts group in order to make some sort of a profit to keep us going.

“So, everybody is really just doing what they can to keep the café open.”

Karen adds: “We’ve never done this before but the feedback we have had has been fantastic!

“The feedback came flooding in and we were like ‘wow’ and the phone hasn’t really stopped and it rings throughout the night too.”

This Santa’s Grotto offers quality and private time with Santa, while still maintaining social distancing rules.

Karen says: “We’ve had a lot of autistic children come in because they like the quiet, they don’t like many people around so it’s just them and Santa.

“The children have been safe; it’s been a private thing and they’ve been able to take pictures if they want, at no extra charge, so they’ve all said it’s been fantastic.”

Karen also talks about how financially difficult it has been during this pandemic, and how she has decided to help others:

She said: “It’s been really hard and the government and Salford council are doing nothing to help since the second lockdown.

“We were closed for four months so we started sending out Christmas dinners, we went around to people’s houses making sure they’re okay, getting any shopping they needed and any medicine.

“And also, to keep up their mental health because there was a lot of regulars that would spend all day here and now they’ve been told to stay at home, and it was affecting their mental health.”

Karen, explaining how much this café and her community means to her, said: “We didnt want to open a café as such, we wanted to open a community café that helped people.

“It’s like a non-profit organisation – we do make a profit obviously to meet bills.

“But, the idea was to help people, to be there for people, and thats exactly what we’ve achieved.”

This grotto has been an unexpected hit for this café, and has brought a smile on many people’s faces and will continue to do so for the next two days while this café hopes to remain open in the long run.

To book a visit you can visit their website or call the café on 0161 376 3315.

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