Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Record shop cafe forced to close after two days

A COFFEE shop was forced to close after just two days because of a lease breach.

A COFFEE shop was forced to close after just two days because of a lease breach.

The Flying Bean Café opened at In the Groove, a new record shop in Reading Road, Henley, on April 6.

Musician Sam Wilkinson and Henley Rugby Club captain Tom Allen were leasing the space from Andy Tucker, who runs the former Henley Records store.

But according to the landlord, the business was in breach of a clause in the lease that banned a food and drink outlet.

Mark Twine, who is also the landlord of Friday Street coffee shop Hot Gossip, said: “During the time the shop was for rent we turned down more than 25 businesses connected with food and drink.

“Because we are the landlords of an existing food and drink business some 100 yards away, we made this decision as it would be bad business practice on our part.

“We leased the property to Henley Records, now trading as In the Groove, in order for a local existing business to expand and stay in Henley. Within the lease we specified no food or drink outlet.

“This was not adhered to, so we had to ask our new tenant to stop the Flying Bean Café from trading at our premises, which our tenant did promptly.”

Mr Twine said he had not known a café was going to open, adding: “We found out on the opening night what had happened. It came out of the blue and we dealt with it as promptly as we could to resolve the situation.”

Mr Allen, who also runs the Flying Bean Café as a mobile van, claimed the clause in the lease was a “technicality”.

“I was a part of the tenancy as a sub-tenant and the issue was not between me and the tenant, it was between me and the landlord,” he said.

“When we were told that we had to shut I was really gutted, annoyed and angry.”

Mr Allen said that town councillor Lorraine Hillier, who owns Hot Gossip, had considered selling hot drinks at In The Groove but decided against it. “I had three weeks to fit out the coffee shop,” he said. “Losing it means I have had to concentrate on my other projects.”

Mr Wilkinson said: “It is such a great pity. One of the reasons I am so saddened by this is that this particular coffee venue was one of a kind.

“It presented to our community an environment in which customers could enjoy what was, in my honest opinion, some of the best coffee available in Henley, while listening to and discussing some of their favourite albums.

“In The Groove is by no means a place merely for all record enthusiasts but a crucial hub for the network of musicians and music lovers alike, old and young. None of the other coffee houses in our town, despite their particular quirks and niches, offers people of such varying age groups and mutual passions the opportunity to mingle quite so effortlessly.

“The forced closure of the coffee bar has also rather cheerlessly thwarted an opportunity for two young entrepreneurs who represent the town in heritage and sporting achievement respectively.

“I consider it is yet another misfortune selfishly imposed upon the two young men who tried to engage so spiritedly in the welfare and development of the town and achieve something honest and new within their community.”

Ms Hillier said: “They wanted me to do a coffee shop in there but it was not viable because it is in close proximity to mine. I could see it being viable for someone else but not for me.

“Tom and Sam said they were going to do some coffee. I did not have a problem with that — you do that at a hairdresser and other places — but what the tenant did was to get another business in there.

“The lads got a bit carried away with it — it was a full blown coffee place.

“My landlord is the same landlord as In the Groove and he had written it into the contract that the business could not have a coffee shop. Tom and Sam were not allowed to open and that’s what the landlord was upset about.”

Mr Tucker declined to comment.

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