Café Culture Alive in City and Town Centres

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Café culture has emerged in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon due to the innovation of hospitality businesses in the Borough during the pandemic. Pictured enjoying a well-earned break outside Blend & Batch in Banbridge recently were Irish International Cyclist Matthew Teggart (left) and Mark Downey (right). Mark has just returned from Tokyo where he represented Ireland in the Olympic Games.

A new café culture has emerged in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough’s city, towns and villages, thanks to the innovation of the region’s hospitality businesses.

Local cafés, restaurants, pubs and retail outlets used creative solutions to keep customers safe during the pandemic, which had the positive side effect of boosting the café culture across the borough.

Hospitality businesses welcomed and thanked ABC Council for waiving the pavement café licence fee, which came at a critical and challenging time during the pandemic. Businesses were also able to apply to the council for funding for a range of support mechanisms to revitalise their business such as awnings, tables and outdoor seating. Over the last two years, 29 pavement café licences were granted by ABC Council, giving an additional 321 dining seats. The council continues to waive the fee for pavement café licences until the end of this year.

With the first Spend Local vouchers being issued this month, locals are invited to join in the café culture for themselves by supporting local hospitality businesses that have been adversely affected by the drop in footfall due to the pandemic.

As a further incentive to shop local, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has agreed to waive car parking fees in council owned off-street car parks for an additional day on Saturday, 23rd October to encourage people back into the city, towns and villages.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr said:

“As restrictions begin to ease we would love to see our local residents getting behind the local businesses that have been worst affected by the pandemic, particularly hospitality businesses. In addition to the existing support our council has offered, we’re also offering free parking for two Saturdays this month to encourage people to spend in their local area. So wrap up warm and visit your local town, village or city over the next few weeks to make the most of outdoor hospitality before the cold weather sets in!”

Peter Fairbairn, owner of Blend & Batch in Banbridge commented:

“Since introducing pavement seating to the front of our shop we feel we have created an external buzz which emulates the atmosphere from inside. The seating has been welcomed by dog walkers, cyclists, customers who aren’t fully confident to return inside, and people who enjoy alfresco dining. We look forward to evolving the seating area once the public realm works have been completed and improve this space for our customers and the Banbridge community.”