A POPULAR artisan cafe is undergoing a major transformation - five years after first opening its doors.

The Chocolate Room and Kitchen in Station Road, Dalton launched in May 2017 under the expertise of fine-dining chef Anthony Bennett and wife Suzie.

Mr Bennett earned his trade working long shifts in hotel kitchens, and decided to invest everything in the business after promoting his products at a series of wedding fairs and markets.

In less than a year, the Barrow chef had created a line of hand-crafted, artisanal chocolates, developed a moreish brunch of locally sourced products and successfully launched a series of pop up restaurant events.

Although originally opened as cafe and always stocked full of cakes and home-baked treats, the intimate venue branched out into hosting sell-out pop-up restaurant events, alongside their popular afternoon tea pop-ups.

Five years on, the business is undergoing a major renovation of both its interior and exterior shop front.

Mrs Bennett said: "When we first started, we were renting the shop until we found our feet and built up the business.

"Then when we worked out how the business was working for us, we decided to buy it.

"It's definitely the right time for a change. The opportunity presented itself to buy the site and this coincided with wanting to renovate the space."

The renovation work includes a number of changes, with hopes of expanding the menu and offering more takeaway choices to customers.

"We've taken out the main wall in the building to create a larger space so customers can enter into the cafe area rather than walking through the kitchen," Mrs Bennett said.

"The expansion will enable us to offer more takeaways to customers and sell more things in the shop.

"Tony makes virtually everything that we sell and we'd like to be able to offer more takeaway options like sandwiches and salads.

"We've hired an extra chef who's starting in February to produce more food and it'll mean less waiting time for customers.

"We're going to have more pop-up nights and restaurant events in the future which are always really popular. We're expanding the drinks menu and offering cocktails and afternoon teas.

"There's also going to be a new shop front and fresh decor throughout the interior. It's really exciting - we can't wait!"

Mrs Bennett said the secret behind The Chocolate Room's success is its high-quality products and attention to detail.

She said: "We started out the business with a really loyal custom-base who have always supported us.

"Lockdown and the pandemic did have an effect, like every other business, but luckily we were able to make it through.

"Because everything is so fresh and there is such attention to detail, I think the business offers something unique to Dalton which is proving popular."

The Chocolate Room is currently shut for renovation work but plans to reopen on February 13.