Cafes ‘crisis’ as business fears it might disappear

t Two cafes on Chapel Street, Chorley, Grandma's Kitchen and Chorley Town Cafe
t Two cafes on Chapel Street, Chorley, Grandma's Kitchen and Chorley Town Cafe

Chorley town centre has reached a ‘cafe crisis.’

That’s the claim as one well established business fears it may have to close in the face of stiff competition.

Grandma’s Kitchen, Chapel Street, had been ‘ticking along nicely’ for years but says the recent opening of larger cafes nearby is having an impact on trade. However, rivals saying they are bringing variety to the town.

Grandma’s Kitchen is run by Jeannie Hilton, 54, with her husband Stan, 65,

Jeannie said: “It is definitely affecting me. I’ve been here nine years and obviously it’s going to have an affect on other cafes in town.

“We are well aware you are going to have a bit of competition, but there are 21 cafes in Chorley. I just feel it’s very unfair whatever dealings the council have had with it.

“For the time being we are trying to ride the storm.”

Stan said:“I don’t think Chorley Council have been particularly fair or thought it out.

“I think that’s a fair view – there are too many cafes going in.

“The council’s aim is to attract more people into the centre and to try to help existing business, and I don’t think they’ve done that.

“I don’t think putting another cafe into Chorley is going to attract people in.

“I don’t think Chorley Council has done its job by allowing all the cafes in a retail area.

“It’s put jobs in jeopardy.”

Jeannie and Stan have had to lay off one waitress.

Stan said: “We’ve told the girls it’s still not rosy. We are putting money in to survive. It was a steady business always ticking over until this.”

Coun Peter Wilson, deputy leader of Chorley Council, said: “I can understand that if a business sees rivals setting up close by, you are going to be concerned about losing trade.

“The important point here is that we have no direct control over the number of cafes in the town centre because we cannot influence the type of occupant a landlord lets his property too, and under the planning laws set by the Government, it is much easier to change use from retail to food.

“What we are able to do is target our help and support towards attracting the types of shops and businesses we lack in the town centre and that’s what we are actively doing.

“We have a list of the types of shops the town centre lacks and when it comes to providing grant support and assistance these are the ones who will hit the criteria.

“If there’s a type of business, such as cafes, that we have plenty of then they won’t be successful when it comes to applying for grants, but that won’t ultimately mean they don’t set up in the town centre.

“We have also bought the former McDonald’s site and as owners we can decide which businesses we want to open in the new units and again we have actually turned down an application for a café type outlet because we feel we have enough in the town centre.”

Adam Simsek, owner of the nearby Chorley Town Centre Cafe, said he was aware of Grandma’s Kitchen’s concerns about competition.

He said: “Grandma’s Kitchen is very small and disabled people can’t go in.

“I looked in this area nearly one year before I opened.

“The Coffee Club down at the bottom doesn’t do English breakfasts at all.

“Grandma’s Kitchen is traditional but very small and Costa Coffee is everywhere.

“I’m just modernising and bringing into the town centre something that looks good.”