Barista’s coffee shop reopened in style this morning, with about 100 people waiting outside for the ribbon to be cut, and standing room only once the doors were open.
The new unit, based at a former card shop in the Aberafan Shopping Centre, has benefitted from a £46,000-pound investment to refit the shop, add a brand new kitchen and restyle it as a café and ice cream parlour.
But former customers of Barista’s will be glad to know the spirit of the old café remains. When Barista’s first announced it would be closing, loyal customers started a campaign to persuade the shopping centre’s London landlords Edinburgh House Estates to renew the lease, but contract deadlines had been missed and the lease offered to a national brand.
The café is owned by two local couples, Debbie and Ray Oglesby and Lynne and Tony Wintle, who together took the decision to carry on the business in a new unit.
At today’s launch, customers called Barista’s “the people’s café”, and said they were delighted to see their favourite haunt open again.
“I am chuffed to be open again, but it’s been hell to get here,” said Ray Oglesby.
“We didn’t want to move, and it has cost us a lot of money, but we know we’ve done the right thing. It’s not about the money for us. This café is not ours, it’s yours. It’s the people’s. We felt very strongly that we needed to keep it open, to keep the staff in their jobs, to keep the service here for people.
“It’s not just a café. There are customers who need us. One couple, the husband has dementia and his wife drops him here and goes off to do her shopping. She knows he’s safe here and we know things like that are important to the community and the people that use Barista’s.”
Customers agreed. Carol Price, Val Morgan and Trevor Pickett had come to the café from Cwmafan and praised the coffee, saying it was even better than before.
“We were looking forward to coming to Barista’s but we thought it would be too busy today. Then as we went past, there was a table coming free so we popped in. We’re so glad to see it open again. We’ll definitely be coming back,” said Carol.
Trevor agreed: “We hope the people of Port Talbot will keep supporting them now. We’ve always liked Barista’s – the standard of food is good, the cleanliness is good and the staff are pleasant. We really hope it does well.”
Ray said it had been an emotional morning.
“I’m so so pleased we have got the coffee shop back. These last few months have been hard. I have been up at 3 and 4am, walking around, worrying. Today I went out into the garden and I thought, this is it, make or break time. I didn’t always have the belief we would make it but I’m glad to say I was wrong and the turnout today is fantastic.
“We’ve appreciated help from lots of people, including the likes of Stephen Kinnock and Bethan Jenkins, some of the councillors who helped with planning issues, and especially the local Conservatives like David Jenkins, Andrew R T Davies and Altaf Hussain – it’s meant a lot.
He added: “We struggled on, we hit every obstacle, but look around. The testament is all these people.”