'It is time for new challenges' - Owner of 'lifeline' café retiring
PUBLISHED: 10:17 20 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:20 20 November 2019
It has been dubbed a lifeline for many offering a space to combat loneliness and food poverty.
But Laurent Zahorosko of the People's Palace Café, on Suffolk Square, Norwich, is retiring this week after 12 years of serving customers.
The business, which hosts fortnightly community lunches and a Christmas Day community feast by the NR2 Sunday Social charity, has been bought by someone from the area, according to NR2 Sunday Social chair of trustees Emma Corlett.
A note posted inside the café by Mr Zahorosko said: "It has been a great pleasure to work and be so welcome in this community as a French man that you still don't understand. I am finishing on the 23 of November.
"After 12 years I met superb customers and new friends. But it is time to move to have new challenges. If I don't, I will be here in 20 years time with my stick. I would say thank you very much for your loyalties."
He is inviting people to his goodbye drinks at the café at 3pm on Friday, November 22.
Ms Corlett said: "Laurent has a heart of gold and has done many acts of kindness under the radar that he doesn't talk about. He is a caring person. He will be missed here."
You may also want to watch:
As well as looking out for vulnerable customers he has offered free hot meals to people who do not have enough money to pay for them, according to Ms Corlett.
She added: "It is a normal café but is a focal point for the community. I know there are a lot of people in the area who wouldn't have a hot meal if it wasn't for this café. It is a lifeline for some people.
"It is good that it is not going to be empty."
Ms Corlett hoped the new owner would protect the café's community aspect.
The charity trustee, who lives in the area, added that the café was an important part of the parade of shops on Suffolk Square.
As well as being a popular place for parents of Bignold Primary and Nursery School to meet after the school run the café has been used by NR2 Sunday Social every other Sunday for a community lunch between 11am-2pm for the past four years.
Ms Corlett was hopeful of finding a new premises for the drop-in lunch, which uses rejected supermarket food.
"It brings people together," she added.