Delight as fire-hit cafe finally opens

Bradley Gager (centre) with some of the group which designed the mural inside the cafe.The re-openin

Bradley Gager (centre) with some of the group which designed the mural inside the cafe.The re-opening of Growlers Cafe after a fire last August.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

A community cafe that was hit by fire just hours before its ribbon-cutting launch has finally opened seven months later.

With a funky new colour scheme and an even brighter outlook owner Bradley Gager said he was even more determined to succeed.

The 39-year-old former doorman has had to renovate his Growler's Cafe in Church Lane, Gorleston, twice and says he was 'totally broken' by the devastating blaze just as he was trying to get the business up and running.

But at Monday's opening he was able to put all the heartache behind him and declare the cafe finally open.

Supported by family and friends he said it had been an emotional day, the celebrations mixed with fears that it could all go up in flames again.

And he was especially pleased to be able to give a group of learning disabled people their moment in the spotlight with a chance to show off a colourful mural which survived the fire with only minor damage.

Mr Gager, of Fastolff Avenue, Gorleston, said there was no way he could have come to this point without the help from people around him and the proceeds of two online donation pages set up by Karenza Stride and Louise Bailey.

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He was also indebted to Mark Harwood of Anglia Smartphones who gave him a double fridge.

'For the first month after the fire it totally broke me,' he said.

'I have never worked that hard for anything. It was my first chance of a business and I thought 'if this is it, I am done.'

'To be honest I did have a bit of a breakdown and when you see the size of me I am not a man to get emotional.

'It has been hard because I have never done this before. The contractors left about a month ago and we have a new roof, ceiling, electrics and equipment because of the fire and water damage.

'The last few weeks have just been about putting the finishing touches and now we are open.'

First time round getting the former council community centre ready for paying customers was simply a matter of internal redecoration that took eight weeks.

Adding to his problems was insurance cover which only met the costs of the building meaning he had to beg and borrow to achieve his dream.

He also hailed the support of his father Denis Gager and his chef Lee Prue.

The cafe aims to serve good food at a fair price and continue its community role as a meeting and party venue.

It is open 8am-4.30pm Monday to Friday, and 8am-1pm at the weekends. It can open up until 11pm for events.

To find out more contact Mr Gager on 07533837234.

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