Peter’s Patter - Coffee No More

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A part of Stornoway life (and mine) disappeared last month when the Comhairle announced that the Library coffee shop was to close.

Despite being a popular wee place and a welcome refuge for many fatigued shoppers and drookit holiday makers it was making a loss and rather than looking to turn it around, the decision was taken to shut up shop and hope that someone else would take it over.

Like many families the coffee shop was a welcome refuge when my kids were growing up.

Every Saturday we would drop their mum off at work then hang around the Baltic Bookshop until 10am before heading into the library to get the girls their books before they were allowed their promised treat of hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream whilst I relaxed with a cappuccino and a slice of Bakewell tart.

I was there nearly every week for years and years. My girls remember it fondly and feel a part of their childhood has gone. If anyone thinks it was just a coffee shop then they have never been or went in with their eyes closed.

The staff rarely changed over the years. They were just really nice people and made everyone feel so welcome.

Even the customers who went in on a Saturday morning were the same practically every week.

They were so regular you could set your watch by them and it gave me a warm glow just to see them every week. This wasn’t just a coffee shop; it was a way of life. In fact it was a Stornoway of life.

It was a place for families, for friends and for visitors.

It was somewhere young children could come and sit as a group of friends for the first time up town.

And then there was the window. The beautiful glass window were you could sit with your coffee and be as nosey as you like as everyone walked by outside because they couldn’t quite see you sitting there.

I cannot believe it closed because of a loss of £48,442 over four years. Now my maths might be rusty but that’s £12,110 (and 50p) each year or £232 per week or even £33 per day. Is that really so difficult to turn around?

The coffee shop had the best prices in town so putting up the price of a hot drink to claw back £30 a day surely couldn’t have been that difficult? Anyway, what’s done is done but I can’t help feel that the town will be a whole lot worse for the loss of £30 a day.

Now it’s Woolworths no more, Hydro no more, Clachan no more, Coffee shop no more. Murdo Maclean’s no more?