End of an era as popular Pat’s Cafe in Lakenham closes

A popular south Norwich cafe that has been welcoming customers for more than 40 years has closed and the owner has been given until next week to leave the premises.

Steve Chittock, 50, has run Pat's Cafe in Hall Road, Lakenham for 12 years and Pat Lubbock ran it for about 30 years before he took it over.

Mr Chittock, who is currently stripping out the fixtures and fittings in preparation for his exit, blames Norwich City Council for a lack of support and claims he agreed a rent deal with the council, which he said it reneged on.

He said: 'The council has managed to destroy me. I lost my home and my marriage, partly because of this. I'm now living in my van.'

However, a spokesman for the council said Mr Chittock was in rent arrears, and added: 'A county court decision in February to award possession of these premises to us follows more than two years of negotiation by the council to assist and come to an agreement with this tenant, who is in considerable rent arrears.'

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The cafe has been popular with builders, shoppers and residents in the area for many years, and one customer, who did not wish to be named, said: 'This was a viable business and there was always a friendly atmosphere - so much for the council offering to help small businesses.

'This was a cafe where people could meet up and have a spot of lunch and meet different people from different walks of life; it was always jolly and friendly but now it is gone it won't be long before other small businesses get closed down.'

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The cafe's closure is also bad news for the nearby New Hope Christian Centre in Martineau Lane. Pastor Duane Elkins said that it used to hold quizzes at the cafe which had also become a contact centre for people suffering from depression, drug problems and alcohol in the area. 'We will have to find somewhere else to go,' he said.

A city council spokesman said that it planned to re-let the premises in due course.

Has your favourite shop or businesses closed in Norwich? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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