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WIBU here? I'm not clear how I feel.

(21 Posts)
KayaG Sat 13-Jan-18 07:38:37

<some details changed to avoid identifying the place>

Small garden centre local to us has a sort of snack bar in the corner.

They serve toasties and bacon sandwiches etc in the morning and at lunchtime but have specialised in lovely afternoon teas at a very reasonable price since last summer.

They have said it's going to have to close because it doesn't make enough money to pay the staff's wages.

The problem is an increasingly large group of adults with various disabilities and their carers come in at lunchtime for a snack and occupy the place all afternoon without making further purchases. This means that people calling on spec for afternoon tea can't be catered for and the owners have to put reserved signs on tables from mid-morning for teas that are booked. Even then the carers try to remove the signs.

The owner has spoken to the carers many times, asking them to vacate the tables after they and their clients have finished their lunch but they just say it's discrimination to ask them to leave and they'll go to the papers. But they sit there for up to three hours without buying anything other than a lunchtime toastie and a drink.

It will be sad if the owner feels she has to close but I can't see any alternative. I'm conflicted because a family member and his carer regularly join the group for a couple of hours.

If it closes the group will have to find somewhere else, so surely they could compromise so that it stays open. The owner's other thought was to open afternoons only for pre-booked teas at a set price.

RNBrie Sat 13-Jan-18 07:44:02

Could she change her lunch time opening hours to 11.30-1.30 and then close before reopening for afternoon tea at 2pm?

As long as she advertises these times and applies them to all customers then she can't be accused of discrimination.

KayaG Sat 13-Jan-18 07:46:54

Brilliant idea! So simple yet it would work.

Thank you.

shakingmyhead1 Sat 13-Jan-18 07:49:35

or maybe tell your family member the place is closing as her and her buddies take up most of the tables all bloody day long and dont spend any bloody money and the owner is going out of business because of it

ferntwist Sat 13-Jan-18 07:51:12

That’s so cheeky of the carers group. Excellent idea to close and re-open.

KayaG Sat 13-Jan-18 07:55:56

Family member has learning difficulties so wouldn't understand the problem, shaking. I doubt he's aware of where he is. It's a social group for carers from what I've seen.

shakingmyhead1 Sat 13-Jan-18 08:05:42

its a shame that a group can drive someone out of business like that

Mummyoflittledragon Sat 13-Jan-18 08:25:33

A local all you can eat near me offers something called “stop the clock” whereupon if the tables are vacated by x time, the menu price is roughly £3 per head cheaper. The owner could try offering set prices lunchtime special menus that had to be comsumed and paid for by say 2pm.

Alternatively, I understand the place is small but owner also doesn’t have to have the whole seating area open all day. If it really is only this group, who come, the owner could have part of the place closed until the afternoon as some restaurants do.

I think they’re being left to get too comfortable. The owner needs to clear dishes and drinks away as soon as they are consumed, leave them with an empty table. Pressure them more to have more drinks etc, may be even offer them to rent the place every afternoon or ask them to leave.

She could also play them at their own game. Ask her to makes a note of when they arrive, leave and now much they consume. Then go to the press with a sad face about how there is nothing out there for vulnerable groups like these, who’ve taken refuge in her cafe. That her business may have to close because she doesn’t make enough profit because while she’s got them there, no one else can use the cafe. It’s affecting them and it’s affecting her livelihood. Once she’s done this, hopefully they’ll either be shamefaced and can turf them out. Make it back fire on these nasty carers.

Fishface77 Sat 13-Jan-18 08:39:17

Tell her to go to the press before they do.

Fishface77 Sat 13-Jan-18 08:40:08

Posted too soon
She could say how militant carers group are forcing her out of business and using their clients needs for their own benefits.

lunar1 Sat 13-Jan-18 08:48:37

Good luck, my friend lost her business due to a large group of mums doing the same. One drink each maybe a cake, homemade snacks taken in for the toddlers, who were running around. Quick turnaround customers were put off coming in. When she politely asked if they were finished she got shouted at for discrimination as one was just about to breastfeed. 7 mums, plus kids and buggies took over 2/3 of her cafe. She would have persevered until she realised just as the eldest children we're getting big to school age that two of the mums were pregnant. And the cycle would go on.

She closed her cafe very shortly after.

OnTheRise Sat 13-Jan-18 09:11:20

The cafe could introduce a maximum stay-time, perhaps. 90 minutes or two hours and you have to leave.

However, even without this, or any other measures, it's not discrimination to ask people to leave if they're not actively using the cafe as a cafe.

In her place I'd ask a solicitor for advice, and put a sign up following that advice saying that people will be asked to leave if they're occupying tables but not eating or drinking.

KayaG Sat 13-Jan-18 09:12:23

It would be a shame if she did have to close. I'm going to tell her about the "Closed from 2 - 2.30" idea.

I think that could work. Sorry to read similar things happen to other people. Why are some people so selfish?

Nemesia Sat 13-Jan-18 09:33:47

A cafe in a nearby city charges 10p per minute spent in the cafe. During this time people can eat/drink what they like and just pay a flat rate for the time used. Proceeds in this case are to a charity, but I wonder if it would work here too.

CheapSausagesAndSpam Sat 13-Jan-18 09:34:07

This happened in a nice pub near me....very old and poky, charming but lacking space.

A local Mums and toddlers group took to meeting there and blocking it for hours.

The owner just got hard faced with them. She didn't stop them from coming in but after an hour, she just chucked them out.

ImAMarshmellow Sat 13-Jan-18 09:46:33

You can apply this to parents who have sit in a cafe for 3 hours, nursing one coffee and providing their toddlers with their own snacks, whilst not buying anything else.

It's difficult because it's disabled people, so ta easy for people to say it's discrimination.

Depending on the size of the cafe, can they close of a section of the cafe and leave that for the afternoon teas, or close at x time then reopen 30 mins later for the next crowd.

MissEliza Sat 13-Jan-18 09:51:36

Cheapsausages love the owner! Good for her.

LolaLooLoo2304 Sat 13-Jan-18 09:54:24

We have a cafe near us that you pay for the time you are there, so they log you in when you enter, all items are free of charge and then you pay for the amount of time you are there on exit, I’m not sure of the exact charges but it would be enough to cover the cost of the food and drink etc, would something like that work? 😀

Bogmoppit Sat 13-Jan-18 09:55:07

I agree it is unfair howver what bothers me the most is that this seems solely for the benefit if the carers. Not the adult they are helping. Do they enjoy it or is this a carers social group?'l

Babbitywabbit Sat 13-Jan-18 10:29:17

We had a similar situation with a lovely little independent cafe near us which got hijacked by Mums and toddlers. Mums were buying a coffee and spinning it out all afternoon while cheekily bringing their own drinks and snacks for the kids!

Very unfair on the owner as it just drove out other customers who would have spent more, stayed a shorter time (probably popping out from work for a light bite) and who probably wanted a peaceful break without noisy toddlers

Bottom line is- a cafe is there for everyone and no one group should trump everyone else. If the primary purpose is a ‘social support’ group then maybe a busy cafe isn’t the place to meet.

KayaG Sat 13-Jan-18 14:02:02

To be fair a lot of the clients do seem to be enjoying themselves but I agree that isn't the point. The cafe is monopolised by one group to the detriment of everyone else.

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