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Cafe owner excluded from Eat Out scheme loses £200 on first day of opening

PUBLISHED: 08:44 14 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:32 17 August 2020

New owner of the Hilltop Café at Rackheath, Barry Wright, with the 'Hilltop' breakfast. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

New owner of the Hilltop Café at Rackheath, Barry Wright, with the 'Hilltop' breakfast. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A man who has taken over a renowned cafe is losing money every day by offering his own meal discounts - having been refused entry to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The Hilltop Café at Rackheath. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Hilltop Café at Rackheath. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Barry Wright opened the Hilltop cafe on Stone Hill, Rackheath this week – hoping to entice customers with the government’s scheme.

But, because he officially took over the business on July 31, after the government’s cut-off date of July 7, he was told he did not qualify. Because the cafe has been going for 40 years, and his purchase of it was delayed by Covid, he appealed to the government, which said the discretion on the scheme – which gives a reduction on food of up to £10 a person – was down to the local council.

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The Hilltop Café at Rackheath. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Hilltop Café at Rackheath. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He went to Broadland Council but was turned down, so to kickstart the business he decided to offer his own 30pc discount – but with no £10 per person cap.

He worked out he could break even on offering the discount if he could attract seven customers an hour up until 2pm when the cafe closes. But because people are not yet aware the cafe’s open again, his first day saw him lose £200 in takings because of the meal discount.

“I was really disappointed. It’s unfair because I can prove that I’m not being opportunistic, but that the cafe has been here for 40 years and is not a new establishment. I’ve got lots of plans for the cafe, I’ve already improved the access outside for wheelchairs and I’ve kept on all the staff who wanted to stay. I’ve started doing jacket potatoes on the menu and want to do lunch specials, as well as put in air conditioning and start doing deliveries.”

The 'Hilltop' breakfast at the Hilltop Café at Rackheath. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe 'Hilltop' breakfast at the Hilltop Café at Rackheath. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Wright, who is in a wheelchair after being paralysed in an operation to correct scoliosis when he was 15, formerly worked as a software developer but gave up his job to spend more time with his family after his fiancee had a baby.

A spokesman for Broadland Council said: “It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to offer the Eat Out scheme to Mr Wright because of regulations however it is in our interests to get the economy going so we do urge him to get in touch with us to see if there is anything else we can help him with.”

New owner of the Hilltop Café at Rackheath, Barry Wright, front, with chef, Simon Hughes, and the 'Hilltop' breakfast. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNew owner of the Hilltop Café at Rackheath, Barry Wright, front, with chef, Simon Hughes, and the 'Hilltop' breakfast. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

New owner of the Hilltop Café at Rackheath, Barry Wright, right, with manager Scott Harnden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNew owner of the Hilltop Café at Rackheath, Barry Wright, right, with manager Scott Harnden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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