A POPULAR coffee shop that has been a pivotal part of the community in Basingstoke has been brought by a couple from Overton and they have been telling the Gazette all about themselves. 

As previously reported, the cafe opened in August 2020 during the height of the pandemic and has successfully made a name for itself in the town centre.

The community-focused and dog-friendly independent speciality coffee shop has been purchased by Mark and Anita Lincoln from Overton who have been married for 30 years.

It comes after former owner and founder Mary Stevens put the cafe on the market in September after deciding to retire. 

READ MORE: Popular Willows Coffee House in Basingstoke up for sale

Basingstoke Gazette:

Anita, 51, told the Gazette that her mother owned a small catering business and she was always helping out with the food side.

She said: "I have always had a big love for food and I have always wanted to have my own tea or coffee shop."

The couple's two children visited Willows with their grandmother on school holidays and have "always loved it," she said. 

Anita said she has always thought Willows was "a lovely place" and is really excited to get stuck into all it has to offer.

Meanwhile, Mark describes himself as a "local business person" who has run other small businesses mainly in logistics and security. 

He added: "My mother is a frequent visitor with the grandchildren in the holidays. A work colleague was ranting and raving about how great Willows is and it was advertised as dog-friendly and that is one the things we loved and picked up on because we have dogs as well.

"I was looking to buy a local business anyway and invest locally and this opportunity came up and because of the excellent feedback I have had from absolutely everybody it seemed like a no-brainer. My wife was also looking to have a change so it just seemed perfect for us."

Basingstoke Gazette: Mary Stevens and her dog Willow inside the coffee shop, which has been put for sale

Throughout the years Willows has been a pillar in the community and is known to support many Love Basingstoke events, including the popular starting point for the Basingstoke Festival Parade, Diwali Parade and the Streets Alive Project.

SEE ALSO: Willows Coffee House owner says emotional goodbye

The shop regularly hosts its own events too including craft markets, art and artisan fairs, live music, puppy walking, meditation and art classes.

This year the business won the Inspire Business Award for diversity and inclusion for its work in the community, welcoming everyone from any community, age, ability, race, orientation and identity. 

The couple hope to keep things exactly as they are.

Martin continued: "I think the key thing for us here is to try and continue Mary's legacy. I think she has created something quite unique here because I have never heard anyone say a bad word about Willows."