IT ALL started in a garden shed, and now a Basingstoke baking business has opened its first café in the town.

Indigo Bakes was set up in 2015 by Patrick Bowden who decided to quit his job as a supermarket manager to focus on his real passion of baking.

He built a shed in his back garden in Chineham and started making bread to sell at local markets.

Since then the business has expanded and now Patrick and his wife Amanda are delighted to have launched their first café, taking over the unit at The Courtyard in Lychpit.

The couple opened on Saturday and said the first few days have been a huge success.

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Amanda, who used to work in management for a construction company, explained how the business has grown.

She said: “After we got married we moved to Basingstoke and Patrick had an injury on one of his knees and took six weeks off after an operation.

"He decided he didn’t want to go back to retail. We were in a really lucky position that I could cover the bills so he could start again. He said he wanted to go back into baking.”

The couple bought all the necessary equipment second-hand including ovens and fridges, and enlisted the help of colleagues and friends to build a shed in the garden to operate from.

Amanda said: “We fully insulated it, we were really conscious we didn’t want to disturb the neighbours. But the only complaint we had was from one neighbour who said he couldn’t smell the fresh bread.”

Patrick sold his bread through Hampshire Farmers Markets including at Silchester Village Market and also worked part-time as a postman.

However, the business was hit hard during the Covid-19 pandemic when many wholesalers cancelled orders.

“It was devastating,” recalled Amanda, adding: “We baked all the breads and took it all up to the hospital and gave them everything.

"However, it gave us a chance to future-proof the business and re-think. We started doing home delivery which was really popular and helped get our name out.”

The couple began selling at the Portsmouth Arms market before deciding to look for a permanent venue.

After discovering the vacant venue in Lychpit – previously run by Teagether until August 2022 – Amanda gave up her job to focus full-time on the Indigo Bakes alongside Patrick.

See also: Teagether cafe in Lychpit has closed for good

“It’s been a huge learning curve,” she said, adding: “But we’ve had huge support from the community and it’s such a lovely community.”

The café – Indigo Bakes at the Courtyard – offers a selection of baked goods including cakes, freshly made hot and cold sandwiches, pastries, and savoury and sweet croissants.

Amanda said the café is inspired by traditional French patisseries after the couple took their honeymoon in France in 2014.

They have also secured a licence to have seating outside, and are hoping to run bistro evenings, a Sunday lunch club and breakfast club.

Amanda said the opening was successful, with customers queuing up to buy their baked offerings.

The business is set to employ a total of 10 staff and also supports local businesses.

It will open Wednesday to Friday from 7am to 5pm; Saturday from 8am to 4pm; and Sunday from 9am to 3pm.