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Struggling theatre cafe looks to new role as community hub

PUBLISHED: 16:19 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:43 17 October 2018

The Pavilion cafe is looking to reinvent itself Photo: Andrew Fitchett

The Pavilion cafe is looking to reinvent itself Photo: Andrew Fitchett

Archant

A lack of footfall at the wrong end of town is being blamed for the demise of a theatre cafe in Great Yarmouth.

The cafe Pavilion at St George’s has stopped serving lunches and made one employee redundant.

But bosses say volunteers will still serve tea and coffee as it looks to reinvent itself as a community hub.

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “We are stopping commercial trading, that is food and lunches, so what we want to do is build it up as a community cafe run by volunteers.

“Unfortunately it just wasn’t making money as a commercial venture.

“I am always shocked every time I am in there at how few people come in, nobody comes down that far.

“But it has potential to be an amazing cafe. It is a beautiful space. It needs to have a new unique offer and people need to be drawn to it.

“Groups do meet there and that will all carry on. We had to take a tough decision.

“It is a beautiful space and we are determined it will have another life, we just need to have the right fit for it.”

Mrs Thompson, who is credited with a turnaround performance at Sheringham Little Theatre, said she had briefed Great Yarmouth Borough Council who were behind the changes.

“The council thought it was a good time to do it,” she said. “Going in to the winter. In the summer we tried our hardest but it was not really working.”

Volunteer staff in the box office have indicated they are willing to serve tea and coffee.

She added: “We just have to build some love around the theatre. We really need to win people over and make them feel that its their space so a community cafe sits really well with that.”

St George’s Theatre re-opened in 2012 after a major transformation, part of a £9m project to regenerate King Street.

The separate Pavilion was conceived as the theatre bar and ticket sales office, but was beset with problems which delayed its opening at the heart of an outdoor performance area.

The cafe will open from 10.30 to 3pm from Monday to Saturday.

MORE: Theatre faces summer financial pressures, report says

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