Monday, 14 October 2019

Warm Welsh welcome at new marina coffee shop

Warm Welsh welcome at new marina coffee shop

A COFFEE shop has opened at Willow Marina in Wargrave.

The Cwtch is owned by Gemma Naughton, a former detective from Wales, and her partner Lisa Anacora, who owns Val Wyatt Marine at the marina in Willow Lane.

The café is in what were once the company’s offices and more recently a delicatessen, the Local Larder, which closed last year.

Miss Naughton, 36, first met Miss Anacora, 38, in Brighton three years ago and moved to Tokers Green from Porthcawl 18 months ago as she wanted a career break after 13 years in the police.

She said: “One day, Lisa and I were sitting in the garden having a drink when she said she had always wanted to have a coffee shop at the marina.

“I said ‘I think I can do that’, although I had no idea how much work it would be.”

Planning permission was granted by Wokingham Borough Council a year ago, with the support of Wargrave Parish Council, and the café opened in August.

The conversion was made possible thanks to Miss Naughton’s uncle, who regularly travelled from Wales to help with the decorating, plumbing and electrics.

She said her parents, Chris and Anna, were also “dragged out of retirement” to help out and had been “hugely supportive”.

The Cwtch — the Welsh word for a hug or cuddle — is open seven days a week and has 50 seats as well as tables and chairs outside.

There are 10 people working there, including manager Sam Adams, who used to work at Cafe Copia in Henley. Miss Naughton said: “Things are going very well. People have already made it their regular coffee shop.

“The moorings holders here are a very close knit community and they deserve somewhere to go where they can be together and hang out.

“We didn’t realise that it would be so popular with the local community and it is really lovely to see.”

Miss Anacora said: “I am thrilled that the Cwtch has opened. The lovely vibe that we already had in our marina has been enhanced with the addition of this stylish and comfy space that welcomes in more of the local community.

“Being a brand new venture for us, we are enjoying the journey of figuring everything out and are particularly proud of our efforts to become single-use plastic free.”

A friendly face is their two-year-old dog Harry, a cavalier King Charles and poodle cross-breed.

Miss Naughton said: “He absolutely loves coming to work with me and the customers love him too. We are a very dog friendly place and we have treats for the dogs.”

She is enjoying doing something so different from fighting crime.

Miss Naughton said: “I wanted to do something that was completely different but was still something that had an impact on people’s lives. I first got into policing because I wanted to help people.

“Being a detective was certainly a challenge at times but one that I was happy to rise to.

“This is more like providing joy to people every day. I am planning on going back into policing but not for a little while yet.

“I am learning a lot in this job and that is really refreshing.

“Everyone has been overwhelmingly supportive. We want to be a fixture of the local community and that home away from home where people can catch up with their friends by the water.”

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