A BUSINESSWOMAN welcomed hundreds of faces and wagging tales into her new dog friendly café in Basingstoke.

After the owner, Mary Stevens, lost her job as a content editor in November last year, she decided to step out and use her redundancy money to open Willows Coffee House at the bottom of Church Street.

Speaking about the official opening on (Saturday, August 8), Mary told The Gazette: "The atmosphere was amazing, with lots of smiling faces and wagging tails.

"The feedback was good, with people mostly wanting outdoor seating, which I am in the process of applying for."

The new shop made over 100 sales, with 300 people wondering in and out throughout the day.

Mary was initially inspired by her late father, Harold Allerston, who died 25 years ago, and was the mayor of Basingstoke from 1988 to 1989.

She said her father was "passionate" about the town and "hated the way Basingstoke had the mickey tacken out of it".

Mary has named the café after her cockapoo Willow, having deciding to run the café as dog friendly, with treats and water outside for them to enjoy.