Holbrook café run by customers to close next week after being hit with ‘triple whammy’ of problems

A popular village café will close next week after being hit with a “triple whammy” of problems. The Spotted Calf café in Holbrook has served homemade scones, cakes and paninis to visitors since it was rescued by customers in 2017.

The community-run café will close from Monday, October 9. The café has been run by Holbrook Community Society since this community benefit society rescued the Spotted Cow pub from housing development six years ago.

The pub is next door to the café on Town Street and had its lights turned off and its doors locked in 2014. This led campaigners to band together and buy the building and car park for £275,000 – meaning the pub and cafe now have 260 owners.

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Chair of the Society, Howard Thomas, says “We are extremely sad to have to close this village asset which has been enjoyed by regular customers and visitors for the last six years. While rising costs are an issue, there is little natural footfall in Holbrook and, like much of the hospitality industry, we have suffered this year from a decline in tourists, walkers and cyclists.

“Staycations have fallen as many more people have gone abroad and erratic weather has reduced numbers engaged in outside pursuits. We simply do not have enough customers coming sufficiently often to cover the costs.

“The economics of the Spotted Calf in particular have been difficult post-Covid. Before lockdowns, we had eleven volunteers at the café and could easily cope with one paid member of staff. After lockdowns ended, only three volunteers returned and we now only have one, so staff costs have risen sharply. Again, the reduction in volunteers post-COVID is a national issue. We have been hit by this triple whammy.”

The Society’s management is now concentrating on continuing to build trade at the Spotted Cow pub which is its main trading unit, an alehouse since at least 1861. In 2016, it was declared an asset of community value.

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