OLD Town businesses have reacted with shock and sadness to cafe Cakes And Ale closing less than a year after it opened.
Owners David and Marya Marriott, who opened the Devizes Road establishment, last June, announced their decision to cease trading through their website blog. They said they’d been ‘killed by taxes’ and felt that the odds of the business being successful were stacked against them from the start.
“The odds against new businesses succeeding for even a year are high, way above 50 per cent,” said David, who lives in Wroughton.
“The odds worsen for cafes and restaurant businesses. “We knew that when we opened but life without risk is a kind of death. “We made mistakes. But we’re not stupid and have lived and worked long enough to know how to avoid fundamental errors. We were and are idealistic but not naive.”
David wrote about the “terrible trinity of taxes, VAT, National Insurance and local business rates” which blighted Cakes And Ale.
He believes those costs make it difficult for new businesses to establish themselves.
The cafe, based in a former furniture shop, was an unusual concept, selling beer and wine, but also tea, coffee, cakes, breakfast, lunch and supper.
Erica Fowers, the manager of The Core, next door to Cakes And Ale, said: “It is very sad to see a new business go. They came in just after us and it is a shame to see Old Town lose some of its vibe. “I read the blog post and thought it made a lot of sense, as things are very tough for businesses finding their way.”
Jack Arnold, the bar supervisor at The Hop Inn, in Devizes Road, said: “It is weird to see it close down as I think Cakes And Ale, as well as the Core were doing well. It is a pity to see it close down as I’d heard good things about it.”
Phil Saunter, who owns Los Gatos and Bistro Les Chats, in Wood Street, with Shareen Campbell, said: “It is a true shame to see them go as we know just how tough it is for small businesses. “I’m really sorry to see something which tried to be different and offer variety to Old Town close down.”
Cakes And Ale’s owners are now planning to sart a business renovating and customising vintage furniture, after many customers admired their cafe’s style, furniture and décor. They also plan to continue selling cakes online.
“We take off our hats to other small businesses like ours that succeed against the odds,” David said.
“We don’t know how they do it but wish them continued success,” “We want to thank the many hundreds of customers who supported us, promoted our business and became our friends. “We’re really sorry that, having discovered us, we have disappeared from your view. It’s not what we wanted.”
To read the full blog post visit www.cakesandalecafe.co.uk.