Shrewsbury cafe owner says town is over-run . . . with cafes
Customers are rallying to support a Shrewsbury cafe owner’s fight to stop a competing business opening across the road.
It has been three years since Off The Square Cafe and Bistro opened its doors in Market Street, and in that time owner Emma Reilly says the number of cafes and restaurants in the town has soared.
She is now saying ‘enough is enough’ after a planning application was submitted to Shropshire Council last week that could see another cafe open up opposite her own.
Ms Reilly was shocked to see a notice had appeared near the old Boots pharmacy on Friday and immediately started a petition against the proposal.
The application states the owner’s intention to change the classification of the premises from retail to restaurant/cafe. While this does not guarantee it would become a cafe, Ms Reilly feels any kind of similar establishment under that scope would be damaging to existing businesses.
She said: “I just think there are enough cafes around now. I have spoken to other business owners and customers and a lot of people agree.
“Obviously it is not good for me being right opposite, but it’s not good for everyone else as well.
“It could become a wine bar, which wouldn’t be the same as my business but might be the same as someone else’s.”
Ms Reilly’s petition gathered signatures from more than 80 customers on Saturday alone, with many leaving comments of support as well as suggestions of how the unit could better be used.
“A few people have written on here that we could do with a little convenience store,” said Ms Reilly.
As well as the petition, objections have already been submitted to the council’s planning department online.
Among them, Rachel Pallett said: “I feel that as there is so much choice of cafes in the town another one would be utterly ridiculous.
“I have noticed over the past few months some have even closed down, no doubt this is due to the fact that there is so much competition.
"Surely another use such as a small supermarket or fruit and vegetable shop would be more appropriate.”
Ms Reilly is now calling for the council to take action to protect the small businesses in the town centre by refusing the application.
“There are just more and more cafes coming all the time,” she said.
“In Shrewsbury there are now 60 cafes on TripAdvisor - when I opened, there were 40. The council needs to cap it.”