A FORMER town centre supermarket which has sat empty for five years will be given a new lease of life when it is turned into a café.

Katy’s Café Lounge will be moving into the old Budgens in Roche Close, Rochford, and offering a range of coffees, along with cocktails and wines.

It was bought by employment consultants AJ Chamber, which originally planned to use the space to expand their nearby offices.

But bosses instead have chosen to bring the building back into wider public use and are now putting the finishing touches to the new café, which is due to open next month.

Managing director, Andrew Hilliard, said: “From the time we fell in love with the site and its surroundings two years ago, until now when we are finally coming to the end of an immense project, this has been an incredibly exciting journey.

“I am so grateful to our whole team who have helped make it happen and, indeed, the support we have had from the community has kept us going against challenging market conditions.

“Hopefully, from here, the space can play a positive role in the community while we continue to develop both offerings; and this will be a great home for AJ Chambers and Katy’s Café Lounge for many years to come.”

Bosses have spent £300,000 on redeveloping the old supermarket, which had rotting fruit on shelves when they were first handed keys to the building in October 2021.

The new café is named after Mr Hilliard’s eldest daughter and will aim to use products sourced from the surrounding area.

The venue has permission to stay open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with bosses planning to arrange live music and mic nights.

They hope this will ensure the café appeals to a wider market of social groups, as well as employers and families.

The café’s general manager Kelly Copeland said: "We don’t want to come across as ‘just another café’.

"Our aim is to bring something new to Rochford, creating a space to bring the community together.

"Katy’s Café Lounge will be a relaxing experience, where you can enjoy amazing food from cakes to sharing platters – while enjoying a coffee, or why not treat yourself to a cold glass of wine."

The café opens on August 12.