Cafe faces closure after 1,000 per cent rent increaseBy Becky Barnes
September 27, 2012
A couple who invested their £75,000 life savings refurbishing a cafe say they will be forced to close after receiving two weeks notice of a 1,000 per cent rent increase.
Andy and Pauline Jordan, pictured, who run Pinewood Bar and Cafe, are in ‘complete shock’ after Wokingham Without Parish Council informed them their annual rent would increase from £2,000 to £22,000.
Andy, 57, who took over the lease of the building at The Pinewood Centre, in Old Wokingham Road, Crowthorne, two and a half years ago, said: “We are absolutely gutted and in complete shock.
“We expected an increase of double or treble what we are paying but this is an absolute non-starter. Even half that would not be feasible to break even.”
The couple, who live in Bullbrook and have been together for 33 years, received a letter last week saying the rent increase would come into force on Monday.
Andy said: “When we took over we were given two year’s reduced rent to get it up and running and expected it to go up in line with others based here, which is around £5,000 to £6,000.”
The business owners claim they took on the cafe on the proviso of a 25-year lease, which has never been put in writing.
Andy said: “All we want is a realistic rent, we are not here to make money.
“We are in this for the rest our lives and we hoped our kids would take over.”
The couple say they have spent their money on refurbishments, including installing a bar and putting disco lights in the function room.
Pauline, 54, a Scouting volunteer for 40 years, said: “If we had to close we would be devastated. We are both in our 50s and we would have to start our life again and find jobs. I fear for my eight part-time staff. I don’t know whether we would be able to pick ourselves back up.”
The pair welcome 400 to 500 customers each week, from mums to pensioners to community groups.
They plan to take a petition with hundreds of signatures to the parish council’s meeting at the St Sebastian’s Memorial Hall, in Nine Mile Ride, on Monday at 7.30pm.
Pauline said: “Sign our petition and join us at the meeting. We will fight as best we can to keep the place.”
Wokingham Without Parish Council did not wish to comment.