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Café in city park forced to close

PUBLISHED: 10:17 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:25 22 January 2020

Café Park Britannia at Waterloo Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Café Park Britannia at Waterloo Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A popular park café has been forced to close - but its manager says he hopes to be back in business soon.

Café Park Britannia at Waterloo Park. Manager Simon Stokes with a Chocolate Beast milk shake, pictured at its opening in 2017. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCafé Park Britannia at Waterloo Park. Manager Simon Stokes with a Chocolate Beast milk shake, pictured at its opening in 2017. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Park Britannia, better known to some as the Waterloo Park café, posted on Facebook on Monday to say it was now "closed until further notice".

Simon Stokes, its manager, said he had been forced the shut the doors due to an administrative issue, but added talks were ongoing and that he was receiving support from Norwich City Council.

He said he hoped to reopen as soon as possible.

In August last year, it was feared the café would have to close for good after social enterprise Britannia Enterprises, which took over its running and also ran Café Britannia near Norwich Prison, went into liquidation.

But an 11th hour deal was struck when the social enterprise came to an agreement with the city council to keep the café open. Mr Stokes, who has been manager since its opening, then took on its running.

He said he loved being at the café and had not had any intentions of closing.

Before the café, which is in a Grade II listed pavilion, was reopened in 2017 it had been closed for more than a decade, and last revamped more than 15 years ago.

In the early 1980s it was used as a children's play group.

Shirley Jordan, chairman of the Friends of Waterloo Park, which was formed in 2018 to enhance and promote the park, said the café had made a huge difference to the area.

"It's just been amazing, the number of people who have enjoyed coming to the park," she said. "It's so different being able to have a cup of tea and enjoy looking at the park.

"It means when we have events the catering is taken care of, and they have lots of families and dog walkers there. It won't be quite the same if it's not there, it will be badly missed."

She said local councillors, including Matthew Packer, were doing their best to help keep the café open.

Supporters of the enterprise voiced their disappointment in the comments, with Dean Howell saying: "Sorry to hear this, lovely place! Great food and customer service!"

And Jan Allen said: "So sorry to hear that. I hope that something works out for you."

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