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Nairn business owner calls for community support to help save train station cafe

By Federica Stefani

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A Nairn business owner is seeking the help of the community to stay afloat amidst soaring running costs.

Hazel Leith, owner of the Coffee Station.
Hazel Leith, owner of the Coffee Station.

Hazel Leith (68) has been running The Coffee Station in the Nairn railway station building for the past 14 years, serving food, drink and a chat to many loyal customers.

Sadly, she says, the business is now at risk due to sharply increased costs across the board - the price of essentials such as coffee having almost gone up threefold since Covid.

“It has become unsustainable,” she said.

“A box of eight coffee bags - I used to pay £45 before Covid. It then went up to £55 after that, but recently has gone up to over £120. I used to struggle to get up to £200 for a free delivery from a wholesaler, but now the same goods are just under £500.

“Everyone has been affected by rising costs.

Hazel Leith Coffee Station
Hazel Leith Coffee Station

“In Nairn, there are a lot of elderly people who used to have their lunch at a different place every day, doing what we called ‘the circuit of Nairn’. But you don’t see them as much anymore, I don’t think they can afford it.

“And to me it seems there are also fewer holidaymakers than in the past.”

As fewre customers pay by cash these days she said that she is also having to fork out hundreds of pounds every year in fees for the card payment system.

“It has only hit me recently, how bad the situation was,” she said.

Her husband passed away in January after suffering from dementia, a situation, she said, that had kept her from being full focused on the cafe.

It has been a difficult time for hospitality venues in Nairn: last week, Cawdor House Cafe announced its sudden closure, and a few months ago Wendy’s Hoose on the High Street also closed its doors.

After posting about her struggles on social media at the end of June Mrs Leith said she had seen many more customers coming to the cafe for a hot cuppa or a roll.

“I have been really busy since I posted it, which is great,” she said.

The Coffee Station. Pictures: Federica Stefani.
The Coffee Station. Pictures: Federica Stefani.

“It’s really good and if people keep coming this way, this would really help us going. However, I worry that this will die down at some point. And if it does not keep up, I will have to close.

“It’s very difficult.

“For me, it’s not just about money. It’s about the people I meet and the community around here. I love it and it’s such a big part of my life.

“People come here to find a warm spot and a hot drink when they have to get a train in winter. Most importantly, many come here to sit down and have a chat. For some people who live on their own, this is one of the very few times they chat to someone else.”

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