Friday, 18 August 2017

Cafe that couldn’t stand the heat

A COFFEE shop in Henley has closed after 11 years.

A COFFEE shop in Henley has closed after 11 years.

Bloc Brazillian 2 in Market Place shut its doors for the last time at the end of business on Sunday.

Oliver Gervaise-Jones, who owned the café with his father David, blamed competition from rivals such as Starbucks.

He said: “We have been losing money for the last few months so we had to pull the plug on it.

“With the increase in costs this year our financial position has been untenable.

“We just can’t compete with the high street — the competition is certainly an influential factor.”

Mr Gervaise-Jones said part of the problem was being unable to market their business effectively.

“We failed to compete with the marketing machines of the big high street chains,” he said. “Neither my father nor myself have the marketing skills.”

He is to continuing his sandwich delivery round and hopes to keep on as many of his four full-time and two occasional staff as possible.

“We are a close group of friends and the sandwich delivery shop has no overheads and we are looking to get a third van and expand.

“It will be much nicer than saying, ‘thanks, see you later’.”

Mr Gervaise-Jones, who lives in Hertfordshire, founded the first Bloc Brazilian in Berkhamsted in 2000 before opening in Henley two years later.

He later closed down the original café to concentrate on the newer one.

He is pleased not to be leaving Henley altogether.

“Eleven years is a long time,” he said. “I have spent a lot of time here and developed a whole social life in this part of the world.

“I know a lot of our customers so well that I have their telephone numbers.”

He thanked his customers and the Henley Standard for their support, particularly after the death of waitress Denisa Perinova, who was killed in a cycling accident in Stonor in July.

Staff held a party at the coffee shop in celebration of her life and her picture was placed on the wall to her memory.

A group of friends and colleagues attended her funeral in the Czech Republic and there was a memorial cycle ride from the shop to the B480, where she suffered fatal head injuries following a collision with a car.

Her death led to the route of the Challenge Henley cycle race being changed.

Mr Gervaise-Jones added: “We would like to thank you for all your support.”

Last year, Henley Mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin said there were too many coffee shops Henley — there are now eight. t.

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