THE chance to run a 106-year-old cafe in Old Town is up for grabs.

South Swindon Parish Council, which owns the Town Gardens cafe, has put out an invitation to tender which asks local businesses to put forward applications to run it for at least three years.

The facility was first introduced to the park in 1914 and was handed to the parish council by Swindon Borough Council in 2019.

A report from the parish council said that the cafe has become an attraction for many visitors to the park but it does need some repairs.

It said: “Feedback from park users has been that the park has significantly improved and has become a top Swindon attraction.

“The external structure needs some repairs to fix a small roof leak and to rotten sections of the building. 

"However, the kiosk has been found to be in a relatively good condition."

Chairman of the parish leisure and amenities committee at the parish Neil Hopkins said: “We have taken the decision to open the lease at Town Gardens café for competitive tender to see what interest there is across Swindon to run a café in one of Swindon’s busiest parks. 

“South Swindon Parish Council has significantly invested in the park and we want it to be the best park in Swindon. 

“The quality of food and catering facilities in the park is a big part of achieving this.”
The advertisement for the cafe says a number of factors will come into play when considering who will take over including the opening hours for the site, a proposed menu and what investment will be put into it.

Coun Hopkins added: “The parish council’s message to businesses with food and catering experience is to take a look at the café at the Town Gardens. 
“It is an iconic building in one of Swindon’s most historic parks with a growing customer base. 

“We really hope to get lots of interest so the parish council can be sure we are providing the best quality food and drinks offer for visitors to the Town Gardens.” 

Coun Hopkins added the current operator was being encouraged to apply for the tender.
He said: “We have no complaints with the current café operator. She has strong links in the community and supports events in and around the bandstand area when it has been possible to organise such. 

“We hope the current operator will be tendering for the longer-term lease alongside other catering operators.”

Applications to run the cafe should be submitted to the parish by February 26 before the start of the contract on June 1.

The successful applicant will be offered a three-year contract with the possibility of a two-year extension.