Popular community cafe in Inverness closes doors due to impact of coronavirus pandemic
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A popular community café in Inverness has reluctantly closed its doors due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Olive Grove in Southside Road first opened in 2009 and was run by volunteers from churches in the area, plus others.
As well as attracting customers from the local area and tourists from overseas, it also raised thousands of pounds for local charities.
A statement from the trustees said: "While we had hoped to reopen, particularly once the rollout of vaccine gathered pace, we have had to accept that this will not be possible.
"The trustees have been very grateful to have a rent holiday since the first lockdown in March 2020 but are now at the point where the renewal of a two-year lease is due.
"Taking into account all our overheads, very limited opening from late April, and the need to space a strictly limited number of customers much farther apart, we felt it was unlikely we could earn enough to cover our running costs.
"Any future lockdown would also be an ongoing concern. A ‘cosy café’ doesn’t meet the demands of a post-Covid world, alas."
The team was "beyond sad", knowing just how much the café meant to customers, many of whom would need a friendly meeting place as they emerged from lockdown loneliness.
The venture was the inspiration of the Rev Willis Jones, of Crown Church of Scotland, and also included volunteers from Old High St Stephen’s, St John’s and St Ninian’s churches plus help from numerous young volunteers completing Duke of Edinburgh or Saltire Awards.
The trustees said: "With an ordinary shopfront window located on a fairly busy square, everyone could feel at home, regardless of church affiliation or none.
"We are quietly rather proud of our Tripadvisor reviews – 4.5 out of 5."
It also helped local charities, selling for L’Arche, Liberty and Ness Soaps and others.
Accounts showed by December 2019, £30,739 had been distributed to good causes.
"As volunteers we feel so privileged to have been part of this project and to have been supported by such loyal customers," the trustees added.
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