The owners of Cafe Allez! Belvoir Castle say they are ‘overwhelmed’ by the scale of the heart-felt support they’ve received from customers, with more than 500 messages having been posted on their Facebook page.
Mark Trevarthen and his partner, Claire Fretwell, started up the business as ‘a lifestyle choice’ after previously having corporate working backgrounds and they have built up a very loyal customer base, many of which they now regard as friends.
Mark told the Melton Times: “The support we’ve has been genuinely overwhelming, that’s an overworked word but it has been.
“I’m told there is even a petition to save the business and that has got quite a lot of signatures already.
“The staff are very much part of the Cafe Allez! family and they felt the disappointment as keenly as Claire and I did.
“We are considering our options now. We’ve been knocked sideways a little.”
Belvoir Estates told Mark and Claire a fortnight ago that their lease would not be renewed to continue trading at the site at the top of the visitor car park.
Employees and customers were equally taken aback by the news that the cafe will have to close towards the end of March.
Building up a loyal clientele has been essential with the castle being closed for large periods of the year and visitors not always there to help swell profits.
“Our mission statement is to create ‘your happy place in the Vale of Belvoir’ and that is very much for locals and regulars,” Mark explained.
“A good percentage is down to the service because everyone here gets a friendly welcome.
“We tend to know a lot of customer’s names and we consider a lot of our regulars as friends.
“We are also super serious about quality, we showcase a lot of local produce including from the Engine Yard across the road.”
Despite the surprise of not being able to extend their lease, Mark said they have no ill feelings with Belvoir Estates.
He said: “We’ve seen some of the comments online since the news broke along the lines of ‘typical Belvoir Castle, how they’ve treated this small business?’ but we’ve never seen it that way.
“We are shocked, we are disappointed, but it is their perfect right to take the building back and do with it what they will.”
It’s still very much business as usual at Cafe Allez! with staff going for barista training this week.
The mobile coffee business, from a stylish Citroen van, will continue to go out to events and other engagements.
But the couple, who own all the equipment, have yet to decide whether to reopen the coffee shop at another location.
They are looking forward to going on holiday for the first time in four years.
Mark, who is proud that they helped start up the Belvoir Castle Parkrun this month, added:”We’ve had three amazing years and I’m looking out of the window here and the Vale is sweeping below me, with the castle behind me.
“We just feel prvileged to have been able to work here.
“We would have liked it to have been longer but it’s not a chance everyone gets.”
Go to www.change.org/p/vale-of-belvoir-locals-and-visitors-save-cafe-allez-at-belvoir-castle if you would like to sign the online petition supporting the retention of the Cafe Allez! business in the castle car park.