December 8 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
It lasted for nearly 30 years, but increased competition and a subsequent fall in revenue have sounded the death knell for a popular coffee shop and meeting place in the city centre.
The Octagon coffee shop was built and opened as an adjunct to St Peter Mancroft Church in 1984, and was initially mainly used by members of the congregation after services.
At the start the not-for-profit business was very popular, but it has been losing money for several years and it will close today after 29 years.
The coffee shop has been run by St Peter Mancroft church, whose vicar, the Revd Canon Peter Nokes, said: “We have done everything we could to try and save it, so it’s very sad.
“The main reason is economics. For a number of years it has been losing about £12,000 annually. It has been hit by increased competition locally, the general economic climate; and the benefits of large-scale production which large commercial catering companies enjoy. There was no way the business could continue in the present climate.”
The toilets at the coffee shop will be redesigned and renewed in the next few months, and the vicar did offer an olive branch that it might one day again be used in some capacity by the public.
He added: “During this time the parochial church council will be discussing ways in which the Octagon facilities might be used to extend our ministry of welcome in the future.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers, staff and volunteers for their loyal support and friendship over the many years that the Octagon has served the city centre.”
One of the customers at the coffee shop yesterday, Janis Tyrer from Norwich said it was a sad day. She said: “As a customer I have been coming here since it opened. And then when I retired, I came back as a volunteer. I have been a volunteer for 19 years.
“A lot of the volunteers have been from special needs, and they are probably the ones who will feel its loss the most.
“It has been very therapeutic for them, and has given them a lot of self-confidence.
“It’s very sad that it’s closing, but you have to accept the inevitable that it’s got to close.”
The coffee shop had been open weekdays from 10am to 3pm for tea, coffee and snacks.