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East Anglia Future 50

'We are forgotten' - cupcake and champagne café in Norwich to close

PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:39 20 February 2019

Pepe Ong and Tracey Watt started Cupcakes and Bubbles almost 3 years ago. They are having to close down due to the footfall and the increase of rates. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Pepe Ong and Tracey Watt started Cupcakes and Bubbles almost 3 years ago. They are having to close down due to the footfall and the increase of rates. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Archant

A city centre champagne and cupcake shop is to close, citing falling footfall in the area and pricey business rates.

Cupcakes and Bubbles will continue in business until the 2nd June. Picture: Victoria PertusaCupcakes and Bubbles will continue in business until the 2nd June. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Cupcakes and Bubbles, on Timber Hill, was opened in November 2016 by Tracey Watt and Pepe Ong, serving sweet and savoury snacks, gifts and glasses of fizz.

But the business will shut its doors at the start of June, with its owners saying footfall had dropped dramatically in the area.

They said they had felt the impact of the pedestrianisation of All Saints Green, which was completed in spring 2017, and were further hit by the temporary, but ongoing, relocation of Primark last February.

They criticised Norwich City Council, saying they did not feel they had been supported to continue trading.

Cupcakes and Bubbles will continue in business until the 2nd June. Picture: Victoria PertusaCupcakes and Bubbles will continue in business until the 2nd June. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Mrs Watt said: “We would loved to have stayed until October, but we have to close in June. We’ve not made a profit from this.

“It’s left a bitter taste in my mouth about running a restaurant in Norwich. I would have thought there would be more incentive for independent businesses.”

MORE: Pub’s bid to create restaurant and beer garden in the middle of Norwich city centre

Cupcakes and Bubbles will continue in business until the 2nd June when they will close their cafe. Picture: Victoria PertusaCupcakes and Bubbles will continue in business until the 2nd June when they will close their cafe. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Mrs Ong said changes to Norwich roads which kept cars out of the city centre would negatively impact footfall in certain areas of the city, and, in turn, would harm local businesses.

She said they had put their “heart and soul” into the business, and that they had been in the industry for 25 years.

“We feel that Timber Hill gets left out,” she added. “There are other brilliant parts of the city, but we are forgotten.”

Tracet Watt, owner of Cupcakes and Bubbles. Picture: Victoria PertusaTracet Watt, owner of Cupcakes and Bubbles. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said they were always sorry to hear if a business was struggling, and while business rates are set by central government, they helped where possible by rescheduling payments or offering advice.

“Although individual cases vary, the overall picture for Norwich businesses is a positive one, with recent figures showing that footfall is continuing to rise,” they said.

“The Transport for Norwich pedestrianisation of Westlegate and All Saints Green has been a particular success story for the city, reflected in full occupancy of retail units in the area and how visitors and shop owners are making the most of the new public space.”

Properties with business rates which fall below a certain value are exempt from business rates, while others are eligible for small business rate relief.

Cupcakes and Bubbles will continue in business until the 2nd June. Picture: Victoria PertusaCupcakes and Bubbles will continue in business until the 2nd June. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Concerns over Timber Hill

Earlier this month, a pub in the same road echoed the shop’s concerns.

Phil Cutter, at the Murderers, said the area had been hit by the closure of Primark, with footfall plummeting in the area.

He has lodged a bid with Norwich City Council for a licence to host outdoor tables and chairs in the patch of land on Orford Hill, next to the Santander.

He said he hoped it would encourage people to visit the area, and “bring some vibrancy back to the hill”.

In January last year gift shop JamPot on the road closed, and has remained empty in since. In December, Norwich City Council granted permission for the shop to be turned into a restaurant or café.

And last month, Veeno wine café at Castle Mall closed, less than four months after it opened.

A spokesman for Castle Mall later said Veeno intended to reopen.

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