The Rheged Centre near Penrith is set to reopen next month — COVID restrictions permitting — with a new café and restaurant as its centrepiece.
The 100-seat café on the ground floor has a pizza oven and new family-friendly all-day menu featuring a range of the best food and drink from Eden and the surrounding area.
Sarah Dunning, chairwoman of Westmorland Family, which owns Rheged, said: “After the pandemic caused us to close in March, we took the opportunity to remain closed for several months and make some improvements to our place.
“I speak for the whole team when I say how excited we are to welcome people back to ‘meet again’ safely.”
The spacious café is set to reopen on Monday, 7th December, with 8am to 9pm daily operating hours, offering simple, classic and more inventive dishes in adult-sized and children’s portions.
The centre’s reopening will also mean the return of the Great Print Exhibition for a remarkable sixth year.
The largest exhibition of printmaking in the UK will be on display until Sunday, 7th March, next year, in Rheged’s state-of-the-art gallery.
Over the last five years, the show has gained an excellent reputation for showcasing both established and emerging print artists.
The sixth exhibition is no exception — more than 900 original prints by 65 artists from around the UK are featured, including nine artists from Cumbria, among them Sarah Cemmick, Polly Marix Evans, Mark Pearce and Alan Stones.
Entry will be free but limited to advance online bookings (available soon) to ensure social distancing.
All the shops on the ground, first and second floor are restocked and set to reopen, and Rheged’s independent cinema also reopens next month. The 60-foot giant screen offers an immersive experience unique among cinemas in the region, while the large auditorium offers the joy of escape into a movie with the reassurance of being well spaced from other households and bubbles.
A Rheged spokeswoman said: “To ensure social distancing and keep customers and colleagues safe, the team has taken the difficult decision to keep both indoor and outdoor play areas closed for now.
“Rheged is all too aware of how much families value these areas and will keep the situation under review as COVID-19 restrictions evolve.
“At the end of a difficult year, things are far from returning to normal. But as Rheged throws open its doors to the community it has missed so much, the team looks forward to welcoming old friends and meeting new ones in 2021.”