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Debi takes the reins at iconic town café


Debi Thomas bought the Yard Café & Kitchen in Stroud last November and has plans for a few changes to the popular venue in Witheys Yard.

“I’ve spent my life working in hospitality running pubs, hotels, and until October last year, I was the manager at The Canteen in Nailsworth, where I had been for the past 5 years. I just saw this café and thought ‘I really want it’ – it’s going to be amazing.” 

Yard Cafe Stroud 6 | Debi takes the reins at iconic town café
The Yard Café & Kitchen. Picture: Hannah Bigwood.

The café was opened in 1986 by John and Maggie Mills, who ran it until 2016 – the couple still own the building.

Debi has made some changes inside – removing internal arches and redecorating to provide a more open space and also has plans for the courtyard, changing the pub-style tables and seating to smaller tables to create a more relaxed atmosphere and adding more plants to create a greener courtyard.

Yard Cafe Stroud 8 | Debi takes the reins at iconic town café
Emily Varah and Debi Thomas. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

The food on the menu changed when Debi took over, as well as the menu which includes all the firm favourites such as Full English Breakfast, The Garden English (which is a vegetarian breakfast including Roasted Peppers with Mushrooms and Spinach with our home made potato hash and Halloumi), Vegan Garlic Mushrooms on Toasted Sourdough, Toasted Bagels or treat yourself to the Fresh sourdough Toast which comes heaped with Greek Yoghurt, Fresh Berries, Almonds and Maple Syrup.

Yard Cafe Stroud | Debi takes the reins at iconic town café
Specials board. Picture: Hannah Bigwood.

The Daily Specials board is always filled with a selection of goodies from Soups, Dahls, Toasties, Eggs Benny, Khobez Flatbread and lots more, all of which are made in house by the talented team.

“We cater for gluten-free, vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters. We actually cover everything. Bubble and squeak is popular at the moment – probably due to the weather – it’s nice and warming.”

Debi prides herself on using local suppliers sourcing the best ingredients: “Our meat comes from Woodchester Meat Company, we use Sherston Eggs, our cheese comes from Lisa Stevens, owner of Whey More in Nailsworth, The Billowing Loaf in Stonehouse supplies our bread fresh everyday and our coffee is from James Gourmet based in Ross-on-Wye.”

Debi makes most of the cakes herself – you will find a wide range to suit all tastes and dietry requirements, catering for vegans and gluten free is not a problem. Scones, sweet and savoury are made fresh everyday with fresh croissants and pan-au-chocolate available from 9am when The Yard Cafe & Kitchen opens its doors.

“It’s just really exciting to be in Stroud and in this fantastic little area. I can’t wait for summer, I am hoping to do some evening events and will be collaborating with Stroud Wine Shop with some of their tasting evenings, the first of which is 24th of this month,” said Debi.

“I’ve had such positive feedback from everybody, it’s been amazing and people that haven’t been in here for years have been coming in and just saying how wonderful it is. Everyone has a story to tell about Mills Café from when John and Maggie ran it and I just love hearing them.  I have had huge support from my partner Mark, family and friends for which I am so grateful. I am so lucky with the team here they are all really are great and we have so much fun together while at work.”

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