'The atmosphere has totally changed' - Cafés delighted to open indoors

Russell Hill runs Cafe Myra with his partner Lianne Willis

Russell Hill runs Cafe Myra with his partner Lianne Willis - Credit: Archant

Café owners in Ipswich have expressed delight as customers return to indoor dining for the first time this year. 

From today the hospitality industry can welcome customers back indoors following months of lockdown closure and weeks of dining outside in the cold. 

Café Myra in St Nicholas Street says its customers are happier to have the option to be back in the warmth, but have continued to support the business throughout. 

Lianne Willis, who co-owns the café with partner Russell Hill, said it's now a "very different feel" compared to the last few weeks when the weather "has not been kind".

Cafe Myra

Cafe Myra in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

She said: "The atmosphere has totally changed. It's not even been one morning and it's been absolutely lovely."

Ms Wills and Mr Hill, who opened Café Myra in December 2019, a few months before the pandemic, have been doing reasonably well over the last year despite the lack of office workers in the town. 

"It's been nice to see our customers again and we like to have a community feel," Ms Willis said. 

"You know it's such a small environment, you kind of don't have much choice but to talk to us."

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Mr Hill added they are "hugely dependent on local people", but need people "to have confidence in the high street". 

He said: "Realistically Ipswich doesn't need more restaurants. 

"With Debenhams closing and we hear of more food businesses coming in, we need shops to draw people into town.

Cafe Myra inSt Nicholas Street, Ipswich

Cafe Myra in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

"Things will sprout off from that and pubs and bars will gain from that.

"We need people to come back in and have confidence and start spending some money."

Ms Willis agrees, adding that "online shopping" has really hampered the high street. 

"It's not bringing people in the town to shop to spend their time here," she said. 

"You just meet a friend [at a restaurant] and you don't wander through."

Willy's and Milly's cafe in Northgate Street, Ipswich. 

Willy's and Milly's cafe in Northgate Street, Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Another couple-coffee shop team, Steve and Judith Weale, delayed their reopening of Willy’s and Milly’s café until people could sit back inside. 

Mrs Weale, who has run the café for more than 10 years, said: "We wanted to wait until we could have people in and with the weather we wanted to wait until we had everything available.

"We've had a good steady flow today. Some of our regulars have been back.

"We've survived through [the pandemic]."