A POPULAR Dorset café business has opened its first restaurant and bar in the former site of a Wetherspoon's pub.

Aroma Cafes opened the doors to its first restaurant and bar on July 1 at the former Nightjar Wetherspoons pub in Ferndown which closed in September 2023. 

Able to seat 165 people, co-owner of Aroma Cafes, Ceira Urel, 27, has said the large expanse of the space has meant they have had to push the boat out in what they offer and has spent months preparing the business's first restaurant. 

Ceira said: "It was too big a space to be a café we thought if we open up in the evening, we're expanding the business and hopefully the customers. 

"We're not like a greasy spoons, our food is fresh with local suppliers. It's all a family-run business so it has been quite exciting for us.

"My sister in-laws have come together with our family and, as there are so many of us, we thought we could take on a bigger space."

Established by Ceira's dad, Ozcan Urel, in 2010, the business has grown to have cafes in Ringwood, Bournemouth, Verwood and Wimborne with branches in Poole and Southampton franchised to other owners. 

Ceira has worked with her dad since she was 14 and has seen the community around the cafes build and said she has been amazed by the reaction in Ferndown already.

She said: "The majority of reactions have been really good. Some were a bit cautious because they didn't know us.

"After we put out a few Facebook posts to say it is a family-run business, it's reassured people there's an interest in the town."

Aroma held an opening event on July 1 and was overwhelmed by the reaction of those who wanted to come. 

Not sure what to expect, more than 350 people signed up to the guest list for the event.

The team at Aroma hope to use the opening event as a chance to meet the local community and welcome them into the new restaurant.

The café will offer a wide variety of wines and draught beers and also has a terrace.