Market Cross Cafe in Swaffham opens a new outdoor covered seating area
A town centre cafe in Swaffham is rising to the challenges posed by the pandemic by creating a new covered seating area outside the 16th century building.
Work on the area at the front of the Market Cross Cafe has yet to be fully completed but customers are already able to take advantage of enjoying their food and drinks while sheltered from the elements.
The temporary structure has been built from scaffolding and boarding lending itself to an industrial-style theme. It has patio heaters to keep off the chill, screens between tables and can accommodate up to 30 visitors, but not all at the same time due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Cafe proprietor Kay Wells, who has run the Market Place cafe with her business partner Shaun McKenna for the past 12 years, said that the addition was necessary if the business was to survive the coronavirus crisis.
She said: "This building has been our best friend for years in that it has charm and a quirkiness about the place. However Covid has been our worst enemy with the rooms being small and also upstairs was going to be difficult to manage with the traffic going up and down stairs.
"Because of this, our covers reduced from a total of 56 to just 14 seats so we had to look at other options.
"I spoke to Breckland District Council and they came to have a look and gave us permission. I also spoke to Narford Scaffolding who have been brilliant and who I can't thank enough. They designed the area and put it into place.
"It's not finished yet as we intend to have it painted the same creamy colour of the Assembly Rooms so it flows through. It is just a temporary structure with six months permission but we want to make it look attractive."
She said it is not fixed to the cafe building and has air flowing through the gaps all round, which appeals to some customers who prefer the feeling of being outside.
"Elderly customers particularly appreciate this because they are in a covered area but are not in close proximity to the building itself," said Kay.
The Market Cross Cafe, which is installing its poppy display at the front of the building, is open Monday to Thursday, 9am-4pm, Fridays 9am-5pm. Saturdays 8.30am-5pm and Sundays 9.30am-3.30pm.