A much-loved café was met with a warm reception from the community as it reopened after closing three months ago.

The Chatty Café, located at Old Kilpatrick Food Parcel’s (OKFP) base in Napier Hall, welcomed customers back on Monday.

The café provides a warm space for people across West Dunbartonshire and beyond to enjoy a meal and visit OKFP’s food pantry.

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: OKFP's Pink Ladies OKFP's Pink Ladies (Image: OKFP)Maureen Cummings, founder of OKFP, told the Reporter that this was “one of the best days” the team had had in a while.

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: Around 60 people visited the Chatty Cafe on its first day in its new locationAround 60 people visited the Chatty Cafe on its first day in its new location (Image: OKFP)She said: “The closure was really tough on the volunteers, staff, and our regulars for all different reasons.

“For the staff, their main aim is to make food and make people happy. Our volunteers work with us to do good things in the community and it gives them a purpose, and then our regulars come for company.

“The whole point of the Chatty Café is exactly that; it’s for chatting. It’s been tough over the past few months.

“A lot of our regulars, especially our older ladies, have been popping their heads round the door saying ‘we’re missing you’ and they couldn’t wait to come back, it was really heart-wrenching.

“So to see so many of them turn up yesterday was lovely. Because it was their first day and they just wanted in to see us all. It was hugs galore honestly, it was one of the best days the teams had.

“We all went home with our hearts full of gratitude for how wonderful it is to be back in full swing.”

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter:

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: In February we reported that OKFP was beginning a new era as they took up residence in the refurbished Napier Hall after taking on the lease on October 1, 2023.

The team, who had previously been based at Station Road in Old Kilpatrick, worked long hours to get the site up to scratch by transforming the hall into a modern and welcoming hub for the community.

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter:

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: Maureen revealed that ahead of reopening the charity’s Chatty Café staff and volunteers had been feeling both nervous and excited.

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: She added: “We worried at first. Nervous and excited is quite a good mix but I think we were more nervous than excited with the job in hand after realising the condition of the hall.

“We just rolled our sleeves up and we have a tremendous team behind us. The closer we got to opening the café the more excitement grew because we knew the difference that we’d made to the inside and it was just great to get people in who had been in and out of the hall for years.

“To see their faces as they walked in was amazing. One thing everyone commented on was how welcoming it felt and how warm it felt.

“It was also the first day of our famous pink t-shirts. They appear on March 1 and stay until August, we are the pink ladies then we go into hibernation with our navy jumpers in the winter.

“It was just a joy I couldn’t believe how many people came, we had 60 customers in the café on our first day.

“We were nervous with how the food pantry was going to work in such a big open space but there was no stigma at all.

“People were popping stuff in their shopping baskets and taking food waste or sitting in the café for a cuppa and blether, it’s impossible to tell who is in to do what and that’s what we love.”

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: OKFP’s food pantry is open Monday to Friday between 12pm and 2pm.

The Chatty Café is also open Monday to Friday between 12pm and 4pm.

The café offers a free food menu as well as a donations-based menu.