SERVICE with a smile has long-been held as a key for good business, but one Oxford cafe has gone a step further in its quest to keep customers happy.

The Story Museum's cafe has officially become the city's first ever designated Happy Cafe, joining a network of more than 100 across the country.

Happy Cafes are an initiative run by charity Action for Happiness, and offer a friendly place for people to relax, socialise and pick up information about mental health and wellbeing.

Sarah Fussell, head of operations at The Story Museum, said: "The Story Café has long been a welcoming haven for those looking to enjoy some peace and quiet, and perhaps curl up with a favourite book.

"We’re confident that our café will continue to develop in this manner and become a place of welcome and friendship for anyone in Oxford’s community, no matter their background or age.

"The power of stories to bring people together is universal and nowhere is this more evident than at The Story Museum."

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The Pembroke Street venue launched the cafe last week and, as part of the scheme, has also extended its regular 'Story Bites' storytelling sessions to include cafe visitors of all ages.

Previously the free drop-in sessions had been exclusively for children and babies up to the age of five, but it now hopes that opening up the age range will promote an intergenerational atmosphere where young and old alike can enjoy a story, have a cup of tea and make new friends.

David Gibb, marketing and communications officer at The Story Museum, said: "Story Bites is a really good way for children and parents to engage with stories in an inviting, relaxed setting, somewhere they feel welcome."

He said the Happy Cafe label is an extension of what the Story Cafe was already doing, adding: "We want to make sure anyone who comes in always feels welcome and there is always someone to have a chat with them.

"We like to think it was like that anyway, but signing up to the network is us pinning our colours to the mast and saying 'we think this is important.'"

The Happy Cafe initiative first began in Brighton in 2015, and has grown across the UK.

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Customers can find leaflets, posters and books focussing on positive psychology, and know they are in a welcoming place should they need somewhere to unwind from their stresses.

Before The Story Museum signed up, the nearest location to Oxford was at Wycombe Museum in Buckinghamshire.

The Story Café serves a range of soups, sandwiches, cakes and hot drinks, and is pitched on the museum's website as offering 'a peaceful oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city.'

Booklets available to take away from the cafe promote '10 keys to happier living' according to Action for Happiness, such as 'find three good things in each day'.