Cafe aims to survive new Costa opposite

Owners hope customers stay loyal as coffee chain opens across the road

Ian Cooper
Andy and Jaci Delooze, owners of The Barista's coffee shop on Watergate Street

Owners of an independent coffee house are optimistic customers will remain loyal even though a branch of the national Costa chain has opened directly opposite.

Andy and Jaci Delooze, who live in Hope, North Wales, opened The Barista’s five years ago in the middle of a recession when there were nowhere near as many rival cafes in the city centre.

Andy is optimistic Costa won’t devastate the business and takes heart from the story of hot dog vendor Geoff Mesney who feared the opening of McDonald’s at The Forum only to find his business benefited from the extra customers drawn to the area.

He said: “What bugs me is Costa is right on our doorstep. Every time I see the door open and someone walks in, I wonder why. I guess it’s the power of the brand but I do take heart from the example of the chap by McDonald’s.

“We’ll have to see what happens when the polish wears off. We pride ourselves on our coffee. We have barista training and have won awards.”

Andy said sandwiches and soups were made on the premises. Cakes are provided by a Chester bakery.

“We seem to have had a few ‘protester’ customers coming in who we’ve never seen before,” said Andy, who senses a backlash against giant corporations in favour of local suppliers offering a more personal service.

Andy, who uses neighbouring independent businesses, said his daughters Alice, 18, and Amy, 17 and 15-year-old son Adam also work in the cafe at weekends.

Another selling point of The Barista’s is the building itself. In medieval times it would have been used to store wine or cloth brought in from Chester’s port.

And the cafe is also part of God’s Providence House – although this usually refers to the timber-framed building above the undercroft.

It is claimed it was one of a few households, if not the only one, to escape the plague, hence the inscription on the building ‘God’s Providence is Mine Inheritance’.

Andy said when the cafe first opened there was a mass panic about swine flu.

“Everybody was dropping like flies but we were fine!” joked Andy, who hopes the same protection will be afforded to the commercial well-being of the business.

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