Tim Hickman, commercial director of The Wright Property, is pleased to report the successful letting of The Riverfront Café in Barnstaple.
This well known venue is situated in a highly desirable riverside location on the main town centre circuit and in the now pedestrianised Strand. The attractive premises were converted from the old Bus Station; built in 1922, to match the Historic Queen Anne Walk. With its Classical Tuscan columns and reeded pilasters, the conversion was enhanced by the clever use of glass curtain walling to the front and rear elevations resulting in a light and bright interior with space for around 60 covers internally along with bar servery, kitchen and back up. Externally there is room for around 40 covers to the front and 20 to the rear.
Originally refurbished by North Devon District Council as an amenity for locals and visitors alike, a succession of operators allowed the premises to deteriorate and the original intention of a traditionally run café/tearoom was lost as different owners took it from blues bar to comedy club in a series of ill planned ventures. Sadly this resulted in its closure last year and the Landlord, NDDC, seeking a new and experienced Tenant. "I have been involved in all of the sales of the Riverfront Café since its original conversion and its many subsequent guises over the last 15 years or so" commented Tim Hickman "There have been some bizarre attempts at re-inventing the wheel as it where, but I believe we have finally found the perfect operators at last. The previous Tenants had stripped the place bare and taken everything (okay - except the kitchen sink!) so any new Tenant was looking at a huge investment just to re-open" added Tim.
"The new lease was offered through a tender process, which is a technique we have used with considerable success with this sort of premises over the years. It was important that any potential Tenant could show that they had both the funding and sector experience to make the venue work as originally intended" he explained. "This is a publicly owned asset and North Devon District Council is a very fair and reasonable Landlord so it was vital that we could see any proposals as workable". Fortunately the winning bidders fulfilled all the criteria: Well known local catering company The 2 Cooks (Sandra Wiggins and Lesley James). "Sandra and Lesley provide all the catering at Barnstaple Rugby Club and it was time they had a full time venue of their own. They are perfect operators for the venue and I'm sure will bring all their expertise and energy in to play to make this a real asset for Barnstaple" enthused Tim.
Following a near total refurbishment, the opening is planned for late June/early July when Sandra and Lesley will look forward to welcoming customers old and new alike. Situated as it is in its sunny riverside location it will make the perfect stop off point for locals and visitors but one thing will change according to Tim: "I understand it will no longer be known as the Riverfront Cafe" he says." The new name will sum up perfectly how it should always have been traded. I'm not sure if it's a state secret or not but I can tell you that the name will involve the words Taw, Tea and by - but not necessarily in that order ....!"