Businesses in Kendal are taking part in #yourewelcomekendal, a campaign to promote all the fantastic cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, producers and food retailers in the town.

As part of the campaign we’ve been catching up with the people behind the businesses to find out why they love what they do. 

Tomas Hornak and Miska Dolinayova met working in hospitality in East Sussex after moving to England from their native Slovakia. They moved to the Lakes to work at the Drunken Duck, near Ambleside, before opening artisan hot chocolate shop Kakaw, on Library Road. Kakaw gets its name from the native American word for the cocoa bean.

“We are both from the north of Slovakia, which is quite mountainous, so maybe that’s why we moved up here from East Sussex because we both love the mountains,” says Miska.

“Local people have been very supportive from day one, even before we opened and we were working on the unit. People were very curious to know what it was going to be. Everyone is so friendly here and we’ve had massive support from businesses nearby in Elephant Yard.”

“We wanted to open something different and bring something new to the town,” says Tomas. 

“We thought that artisan hot chocolate was a good idea because there was no such thing in Kendal. Chocolate is not as popular as coffee at the moment, but 20 years ago coffee was nowhere near as popular as it is now. There are so many options and variations with hot chocolate and we want to help people learn that there is a lot more to it than just powder with hot water or milk. 

“When it comes to finding different flavours and sources of hot chocolate, we are only really limited by the size of the shelf we can keep them on. A lot of the difference in taste is to do with the cocoa content and we’ve got everything up to 100 per cent cocoa content, which is quite dark and intense. The way the cocoa beans are grown and roasted also makes a difference and, of course, the kind of milk you use is important too. You can also add a lot into the chocolate, everything from marshmallows, to salt, chilli or even herbs like rosemary. 

“Most of the chocolate comes from South America; so Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, but there are some from Africa and another from Java. We work with a couple of small companies who source direct from the farmers and make sure they get paid fairly for the product. 

“I think to run a place like this successfully you need to offer a quality product and if you do that then people will come. You can have something interesting and it might get people to come once, but if it’s not quality then they won’t come back again. We’re getting busier and busier all the time; people enjoy quality hot chocolate and we’ve had lots of families with kids come for a weekend treat.”

Check out Kakaw at

About #yourewelcomekendal

#yourewelcomekendal is being funded by the Government’s Welcome Back Fund. The Welcome Back Fund is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and HM Government as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. 

Find out more…

Image: Kakaw by Harry Atkinson

© Harry Atkinson 01/02/2022. Kakaw, Kendal, Cumbria, UK.


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