It was a sad day for loyal customers when Bonds of Elswick announced its closure in 2016, following the retirement of previous owner, Martin Molloy.Advertisement
So it was a delight to hear, in late 2017, that multi-millionaire, Simon Rigby, had acquired the family run business and planned to add it to his ever-growing empire, which includes Preston Guild Hall.
The popular ice-cream company had operated in Elswick since 1947, and in December, Mr Rigby opened a brand-new café and ice-cream parlour in the Guild Hall in a successful effort to keep the iconic brand alive.
Bonds 1947 opened on 3rd December in the huge space that was once occupied by Mundo Tapas (which has now moved inside Level), and now operates as a coffee shop and ice-cream parlour.
We went along to check it out and see what was on offer.
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In keeping with the original aesthetics, not much has changed inside the venue, since Bonds moved in. The dividing wall remains, the till and counter remain in the same place, and the furniture has a similar layout to that of Mundo Tapas.
But instead of traditional Spanish bites, what customers are now treated to is a plethora of café and coffee shop entities and a selection of famous Bonds Ice Cream flavours.
Entering through the front door, the main counter lies directly ahead; tasty looking desserts, snacks and drinks sit neatly on show in the display cabinet.
Round to the left is the ice-cream counter where customers can choose from a selection of around ten delicious flavours, with the option to have their ice-cream in a cone or tub, plain, or sprinkled with sweet and tasty-looking toppings.
And it’s not just bog-standard one, two or three scoops that are available either.
The whole dessert menu is quite extensive – from Knickerbocker Glories to Banana Splits; Cherry Delights to Chocolate Nut Sundaes; Bonds 1947 have taken ice-creaming and desserting to a new level.
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And if ice-cream doesn’t take your fancy, that’s not a problem, for Bonds 1947 has merged with what used to be Leaf and Bean, retaining most of the same staff and offering customers an authentic coffee shop experience.
There’s a full menu on offer, including breakfasts, sandwiches, wraps, jacket spuds, salads, soups, cakes, coffees, teas; and a new addition – Burger of the Month, which comes served with chips.
Since opening, the café has seen an influx of clientele, most of whom were fresh from the Panto season.
They’ve also had regular weekend customers thanks to Carole May’s school of Dancing, and have seen a surge in business from the new bowling alley situated in Level.
Melanie Little, Supervisor at Bonds 1947 said: “People have been very excited about Bonds being in Preston.
“It means they don’t have to travel to Elswick to get their favourite ice-creams.
“In the opening couple of weeks, we had graduation, and then panto season. We were swamped; it was madness.
“We’ve just about settled in now.”
At the moment, Bonds 1947 doesn’t have the same range of ice-cream flavours on offer as the Elswick store does, however, Melanie, who used to work in Leaf and Bean, said that could be set to change as business improves and they continue with their expansion.
“We sell different flavours and change them round to see what’s popular and what’s not.
“We might start selling tubs that customers can take home with them too, but not just at the moment.”
On the menu when we visited were Caramel Chew, Gingerbread, Bubblegum, Mint Crisp, Rum and Raisin, and Malteaser; as well as the traditional flavours such as Vanilla, Strawberry, Banana and Chocolate.
We tucked into a two-scooper of Caramel Chew and Rum and Raisin, and were not disappointed. The ice-cream melted in the mouth, and left us wishing we’d had enough stomach space to try the Malteaser and Gingerbread flavours too.
With talk of opening a smaller Bonds inside Level, and with rumoured plans for phase two of Bonds 1947 to expand into the second room, creating a space for parties and functions, the future looks to be ‘ice-screamly’ exciting for this much-loved, local brand.
Bonds is open in Preston Guild Hall from 8am – 8pm, Mon – Sat, and 11am – 8pm on Sundays.
Have you visited Bonds in the Guild Hall yet? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below