From sorry substation to tearooms – chef’s dream comes true

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FROM an old delapidated substation, brand new tearooms have arisen – thanks to chef Mark Hogan’s hard work.

The 31-year-old ‘chef-turned-taxi -driver-turned-chef’ has spent more than eight months turning his dream of owning his own business into a reality.

Mark Hogan, Bonnie Hogan (7) and Caroline Hogan.'' Mark and Carolin have create The Parade Tearooms, that is located on the edge of Southsea Common Picture: Allan Hutchings (151294-823)

Mark Hogan, Bonnie Hogan (7) and Caroline Hogan.'' Mark and Carolin have create The Parade Tearooms, that is located on the edge of Southsea Common Picture: Allan Hutchings (151294-823)

Now the Parade Tearooms, off Western Parade, Southsea, is up and running after Mark opened it on Sunday.

Customers flocked to the new tearooms despite Mark doing little advertising to attract business for the ‘soft opening’.

Mark said: ‘We’re really chuffed. I’ve been waiting for years to open my own place. I was a taxi driver but a chef by trade – I kept looking at the council and I got it.’

The former substation is leased from Portsmouth City Council but Mark, his wife Caroline Hogan, 37, and father-in-law Tom Ponsford, 65, have put in all the work.

Caroline worked on the interior design while Tom helped with the building works.

Mark added: ‘We put a tender in November, we won the tender in early January and we started in March.

‘The roof needed re-doing throughout, the whole lot. It was a “complete from scratch” job.

‘My father-in-law wanted to help us out, not financially, just his time.

‘I was able to carry on as a taxi driver and come in on Saturdays.’

As well as renovating the two main rooms inside the substation, Mark has added an extra room with windows along the wall.

Mark and his family had toiled to open on Saturday but when it got to 4.30am on the day, they were not quite ready and delayed the opening until Sunday.

The business currently employs 10 full-time staff. The tearooms are open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm but Mark hopes to open later next summer.

Councillor Linda Symes, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport at the city council, praised the business.

She said: ‘It’s really worth a visit.

‘It was a soft opening so not advertised and it was almost full on Sunday morning when I went just before nine o’clock.’

She added: ‘We need a more vibrant seafront, we’ve got the most wonderful viewing platform.’