Café saved - but rent will still rise

Published: 23 Jan 2013 17:303 comments

THE owners of a café which was told it could face a 1,000% rent hike were rejoicing this week, as councillors agreed to be more lenient.

Café owner Pauline Jordan with two of her 12 staff, Janine Jackson and Janet Jones.

Café owner Pauline Jordan with two of her 12 staff, Janine Jackson and Janet Jones.

THE owners of a café which was told it could face a 1,000% rent hike were rejoicing this week, as councillors agreed to be more lenient.

Pauline Jordan, 54, and husband Andy have owned the Pinewood Bar and Café, in Old Wokingham Road, for more than two years - attracting in a variety of customers from across Bracknell, Wokingham and Crowthorne.

But the couple were dealt a devastating blow in October when site-owner, Wokingham Without Parish Council, told them that their annual £2,000 rent would soar to £22,000.

The rent and a petition - which had more than 300 signatures from people wanting to save the café - were discussed at the Wokingham Without Parish Council meeting at the St Sebastian's Memorial Hall, in Nine Mile Ride, on Monday, with councillors voting six to three that the rent rise will be more modest.

Mrs Jordan told the News: "We were absolutely relieved - afterwards we came back to the bar and just had a celebratory drink.

"It's much more manageable and means now we can go on, something which we were really very worried about."

The couple's new rental charges will be fixed until January 2015, at which time it will be reviewed again.

"I don't think it will be the same scenario next time," Mrs Jordan said. "I think the council realise we are not a high street premises, we don't get off-the-street customers and other clubs and businesses in Pinewood are benefitting from us being here."

She added: "I definitely think we have learn a lot from it."

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  • hazelann70
    68 posts
    Jan 28, 08:40
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    For a cafe which doesn't make much profit, they must be rubbing their hands with joy! They are now paying slightly less for their rent per week than I do for 2 days in the run down Bracknell Market (not a posh high street shop). Congratulations though!! I really do hope it works for them but it they weren't making much profit when paying £2000 a year (£38.40 per week), then may I suggest going on a business course? With the facilities they have in that place, to not make money, they must be doing something very, very wrong.

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 3

  • chuckmeat
    34 posts
    Jan 31, 11:11
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    Hazelann70 do you know the history of this story? In my view the most important aspect is that this couple put their life savings of £70,000 into this cafe and made it what it is today. They were doing the council a favour in putting an unused building back into use hence the peppercorn rent, which the council tried to renege on, by increasing the rent to an unreasonable level. In other words the council were trying to take advantage and I believe the council were trying to take this renovated building back from this couple having spent nothing on it themselves. It would not surprise me if the council are deliberately trying to hike rent costs in order to sell off the Pinewood land to property developers and this is typical behaviour from councils up and down the country. The only thing Pauline and Andy can be accused of is naivety in thinking they were dealing with a council who has the community interests at heart when they clearly do not. Who says the business has to make a profit? Even if it did make a profit is it right the council should have a slice of that? Isn't that called racketeering? This building costs the council nothing. The cafe is run for the community and provides jobs to a number of people and so long as they can cover their costs why does there need to be a profit? If you are familiar with its location then you will know that this cafe does not benefit from a high street/town center location. It's out in the sticks and cannot be seen from the country road that runs past it. It relies heavily on the community at Pinewood which is made up of visiting childrens football teams and their parents, the motorcycle training school and its students and the judo club. They also rely on the hall and facilities being hired out so it's a multi function business and indeed it has to be. Personally I have no business being at Pinewood but I go out of my way to go there because it is a friendly place and I like the breakfast. Why don't you pay them and the cafe a visit? Check the place out for yourself.

    Recommend?   Yes 3     No 1

  • hazelann70
    68 posts
    Feb 4, 10:52
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    Chuckmeat, yes, I have been following this story for a while now. I have been down and had a cuppa coffee and a sarnie there and it is indeed a very lovely place. I take my hat off to them for making it what it is and giving the community a service. This is what my cafe is – a place for the community. I agree that they took the place on and were incredibly naive to think the council wouldn’t do them over in one way or another. My only gripe was when they said they don’t make much profit when they were paying £2000 a year. I agree, a place like that and mine isn’t there for profit, it’s there as a service. People probably think we are mad to not make much, if anything out of the place but there are people like us who walk this earth who do it to give them a reason to get out of bed and give the community something nice. With all the facilities they have in that place, I simply do not see how they cannot make money or at least break even like I do. The function room being hired out would pay their weekly rent in one go!! I totally agree that they shouldn’t be paying the same kind of rents that would be charged in a high street but they are paying less than I do per week and they probably get far more footfall than I do at the market for the 2 days that we are open. I do have great sympathy for them as the thought of going from £2000 a year to £22,000 a year must have been daunting, BUT, putting the higher rent into perspective, it’s a more reasonable rent than £2000 a year as that was a total give away. £22,000 is on a par to what I would have to pay IF the market were to be open 7 days a week. At least at Pinewood they have heating and a comfy seating area. The market is cold, at times smelly, often dead and really not cosy at all whereas Pinewood is the opposite. Hopefully they can find a way to pay the £6000 a year and keep the community in tea and butties. The only thing that would put me off is the parrot (which if you have a hearing aid would cause pain when it squawks) and the dog. Alas, my daughter is allergic to animal fur (as are many people these days) and so she would never be able to go there as the dog can and does (well it did when I went there) walk through the seating area. Shame really.

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 0