Will you be in the queue when Costa Coffee opens in Cromer?
Costa Coffee is opening at 7am in Cromer today.
Business owners in the seaside town have known since last year that the coffee giant was coming.
And shoppers and locals have walked by the ongoing building work at the store in Church Street for, seemingly, ages.
Most coffee stores in the town have reconciled themselves to its arrival.
Paul Thomas, owner of Huckleberries in Church Street, said: “We have got used to the idea now. We have always said that no one is forcing people to go in to the new Costa store.
“We are confident of what we do at Huckleberries. We opened in 2010 when there were fewer coffee stores in the town. We are still thriving and busy. “But we won’t rest on our laurels. We will continue trying to work hard and making sure our customer service is the best, which is important.”
The owners of other coffee stores in the town did not wish to comment.
Last year, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb sent Costa’s managing director a letter expressing the wish of Cromer’s businesses to stay 100pc independent in the food and drink market.
He later said: “They’ve said in their letter they want to be good neighbours, and they’re hoping to bring more people to the area by being here.”
And nearly 1,500 people signed a petition to keep the chain out of Cromer.
In his introduction to the petition, Gary Dickenson, of the Cromer Chamber of Trade, said: “Our focus is on promoting the independent coffee shops and challenging and educating shoppers to be brave and try independent goods, coffee and tea in this case, rather than default to well-known brands.”
Cromer Town Council also objected to the plans on a number of levels.
The change of use application to convert two A1 retail units to an A3 food and drink use was granted by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) in 2016.
An NNDC spokesman said: “This was in line with our established policies which allow up to 30pc of frontage within identified retail streets to be used for complementary but not retail use.”