£400k cafe in Warrior Square, Southend, to open at last – but just for summer (From Southend Standard)
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£400k cafe in Warrior Square, Southend, to open at last – but just for summer
12:00am Wednesday 22nd August 2012 in Echo News
AN unused cafe which has been empty for more than a year has finally opened – but only for the summer.
The £400,000 outlet, part of a £2million overhaul of Warrior Square, Southend, has spent most of the past 12 months lying dormant.
In an effort to attract new tenants, Southend Council has brought in Parkwood Community Leisure, which runs the council’s leisure facilities, to operate the cafe in the short-term. But bosses do not see Parkwood as a permanent solution and the cafe will close at the end of the summer season.
Ron Woodley, an Independent councillor, described the arrangement as far from ideal. He said: “It was not the original intention to build it and for the council to run it. The rental opportunity we are missing out on is big. The council is doing this to avoid embarrassment.
“It’s a catalogue of here we go again – we have a fantastic idea and we end up having to take it on ourselves.”
The cafe was a key part of the Warrior Square revamp, which also included landscaped gardens and lighting. It was designed by Renaissance Southend , the now-defunct development company set up by the council to attract Government funding. When the kiosk, which has £14,500-a-year running costs, was completed last June, the council agreed a lease with restaurateur Benson Kwan.
Mr Kwan, who owns Fusion, in Leigh Road, Leigh, wanted to open an Asian-style takeaway.
The deal was signed in December, but the cafe was forced to close a few days after opening because of problems with the ventilation system. It never reopened and, in February, Mr Kwan said he wanted to sell the lease.
Parkwood, which also runs Cafe Vita, at Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre, will open the cafe seven days a week from 11am until 3pm for the rest of August and most of September. The fare on offer will be paninis, sandwiches, teas, coffees, soft drinks and ice cream. Joe Chesterton, the council’s head of finance, said: “We are seeking a new permanent tenant, but as an interim measure and to ensure the provision of a service in the newly-developed square, Parkwood Community Leisure has taken on the temporary management of the kiosk.”