"We will fight another day" - Popular coffee shop opens in city centre after leaving hospital
PUBLISHED: 06:41 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 19:48 31 July 2018
A popular coffee shop is fighting back after having to leave its well-used hospital base because of a rent increase.
After nearly seven years at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Café Pure opened its doors to medical staff, visitors and patients for the final time on Friday.
The independent café shared the outside unit with WHSmith.
It is not owned by the hospital, which was always supportive of the business, according to managing director Tim Betts.
The stationery giant sublet space to them through a concession agreement which meant the Café Pure paid it £57,000 a year in rent, as well as business rates and service fees.
But in September last year WHSmith demanded £150,000 a year in rent, according to Mr Betts.
The business owner, who was “horrified” by the request, offered to pay £100,000 which was rejected by WHSmith.
Mr Betts, who has relocated the café to St George’s Street in Norwich, said: “I will remember the hospital with great fondness. It has been a lovely experience. We wanted to provide a personal service and over the years have formed relationships with customers.”
He added he had never seen the place so busy than on its last day at the hospital.
“Everybody was sad and there were lots of hugs and tears,” said Mr Betts.
He said the business made a profit and there were always queues every morning.
After the café made it public in April that it was having to leave, hospital staff set up a petition - signed by more than 1,000 people - to keep it.
Mr Betts said: “We will fight another day and we are going to make a success of our St George’s Street base.”
He described the new space, which employs four out of the 10 hospital café staff, as “adaptable” and was happy with its location.
He planned to stay there long-term but would reopen at the hospital if another unit became available.
A WHSmith spokesman said: “We will be redeveloping our NNUH store to add a new retail offer which includes a Marks and Spencer Food to Go range. This new range will expand the healthier choices available to staff and patients and has been well received by our customers in other hospitals.”