Coffee firm not reopening city centre cafe

Alex Sargeant at Strangers. Pic: Archant

Alex Sargeant at Strangers. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

One of the owners of Strangers Coffee Company has said they will not be reopening in Norwich’s Castle Quarter.

Strangers is not reopening in Castle Quarter because of Covid. Pic: Archant

Strangers is not reopening in Castle Quarter because of Covid. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

Alex Sargeant, one of the directors of Strangers, said coronavirus and high rent had made them decide not to reopen the Castle Quarter venue, which they opened last year.

He said they had taken the unit, situated close to the entrance into the shopping centre, with the intention of it being a temporary pop-up before Christmas but considered keeping it before coronavirus struck.

Strangers kept its roastery in the city’s Dove Street open throughout the Covid lockdown, although not for the public, and this is now open for shoppers as well as its other venue in the Lanes, in Pottergate.

Strangers in the Lanes is open. Pic: Archant

Strangers in the Lanes is open. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

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They would also soon be reopening in All Saints Green, opposite John Lewis, in the cafe they created last year.

But he said coronavirus had really affected their business and they had made six-seven staff, mostly part-time, redundant.

“Trade is patchy, the footfall in the city is down although we’ve benefited from the students returning. I think a number of businesses are deciding not to carry on and if there’s another lockdown, what do we do?

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“Landlords haven’t helped us as they obviously need their money and I really think we are going to see a lot more businesses close and more unemployment.

“I don’t want to be all doom and gloom but that’s the reality. We will reopen All Saints Green but Aviva staff, our main customers, aren’t back yet.

“I also had problems importing my coffee from Ethiopia during lockdown, and nearly ran out. But we never stopped roasting. We had about 20 staff on furlough and have kept as many as we can.

”It was thanks to our loyal customers who ordered coffee from us in lockdown, that we kept going.”

Strangers took over the former Clever Dicks hair salon in All Saints Green last November, creating a cafe upstairs and offering light bites for takeaway and eating in.

Mr Sargeant has twice been named in the top 15 in the UK Barista Championships and the coffee house has been named amongst the top nine speciality coffee shops in the whole of the UK.