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Coffee Cat reopens on Waterfront - but doubt over when its other cafes can return

PUBLISHED: 17:09 16 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:15 16 June 2020

Kie Humphreys, owner of Coffee Cat on Ipswich Waterfront Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Kie Humphreys, owner of Coffee Cat on Ipswich Waterfront Picture: DAVID VINCENT

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Independent Ipswich business Coffee Cat has reopened its shop on the Waterfront - but there is doubt over when its other four branches will return, including one in Ipswich Town Hall.

Coffee Cat cafe on Ipswich Waterfront before lockdown Picture: DAVID VINCENTCoffee Cat cafe on Ipswich Waterfront before lockdown Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Coffee Cat owner Kie Humphreys said the reopening of the cafe on the Waterfront, for takeaways only, had received a warm welcome from customers.

“We have taken two people off furlough to reopen, and so far it is going OK - we are getting very nice comments.

“People say they have been missing proper coffee. It’s lovely to see them and catch up with them after not seeing them for three months.”

The cafe is currently serving coffee, ice creams and sorbets and various tasty bites and sweet treats.

However, Mr Humphreys was uncertain when it would be possible to reopen their other four branches, at the town hall, Ipswich Central in Franciscan Way, IP City Centre and the Arts Building at the University of Suffolk.

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“The town hall isn’t very suitable for takeaways, because of having to go up steps and go inside,” he said. “People want to have a window outside where they can go.”

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The hospitality sector is currently preparing to reopen premises from July, but Mr Humphreys said social distancing rules would cause problems at the town hall.

“With the two-metre rule, we would only be able to serve about a quarter of our usual number, and even if there was a one-metre rule it would only be about 40%, I don’t think 2m or 1m is really the issue - we need outdoor space.

“We have started looking into whether we could put tables and chairs outside, following Europe where there are more street cafes, but it is difficult to see how we could do that while the Cornhill work is going on.”

Construction work on the Cornhill is currently expected to continue until mid-August. Mr Humphreys said it might not be worth installing outside seating in September or October, when summer is over.

He said they could not currently reopen their coffee shops at Ipswich Central and IP City Centre, because most customers usually came from nearby offices, but at present many people were still working from home, and it remained to be seen how many would go back to their old ways of working.

He said the government’s furlough scheme had been very helpful, but added: “Really 2020 is looking like a complete write-off for these cafes. We will have to see how conditions change - are businesses going to want to go back to traditional meetings?”

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