City cafes feeling the pinch

url: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellington/2415771/

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Comings, goings and reincarnations continue in the Wellington cafe scene as business owners fight the recession.

Epic Cafe in Willis St appears to be the latest victim of tough times in the capital, after a sign appeared in the window this week saying it would be closed "until circumstances change".

Spiking rent prices have resulted in a reshuffle of Wellington fixtures this year.

In February, Dorothy Patisserie closed its doors after nearly 80 years, with owner Murray Thessman blaming a $32,000 rent increase for the closure.

Espressoholic is soon to reopen in Dorothy's former Cuba St space, after owners Leighton Dunlop and Majida Tooma were given marching orders from their 18-year Courtenay Place haunt.

Initially disappointed about the move, Mr Dunlop is pleased with the new premises. At Courtenay Place they paid $180,000 a year in rent in Cuba St they pay about half that.

Dorothy's old place has had a big makeover, removing the "monstrous" kitchen to make more floor space, he said.

"We're just waiting for the council to rubber-stamp it, so hopefully two to three weeks.

"It'll be a little bit more upmarket, still in graffiti style but more modern the old place was getting a bit tired."

Nicotine addicts will be pleased to hear the new premises will have an open courtyard, just like the old one.

A new cafe, Enigma, has opened in Espressoholic's old premises, though the decor remains the same.

Havana Coffee owner Geoff Marsland has his finger on the pulse of Wellington's cafe scene, after supplying their No 1 product for 20 years. "The good will survive," he said.

Havana has supplied coffee to Epic for about five years. Mr Marsland did not want to speculate on the reasons behind its closure but said rents in Wellington had got out of control.

Cafe owners who fell behind with bills and rent were finding it tougher to keep their heads above water. "Rent has been a real killer the places that do day and night trade are doing the best."

Espressoholic would be competing with several day and night trading coffee houses in its new Cuba St patch, Mr Marsland said.

Mr Dunlop was not worried, however. "We're No 1, the original," he said." The Dominion Post

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