Reading station café bid for drink sales and rebrand decided

Recently, Select Service Partner (SSP) Ltd, a company that owns a series of cafés in Reading station announced intentions to convert the Delice de France bakery located at platforms 8 and 9  into a Café Local.

Delice de France serves up baked goods such as cinnamon rolls, chocolate éclairs and paninis as well as soft drinks, coffees and teas.

Both Delice de France and Café Local are SSP brands.

As part of the Café Local project, SSP submitted a licensing application to sell alcohol from the unit on and off the premises from 6am to 11pm seven days a week.

However, SSP’s plan for alcohol sales was opposed by Reading commuter Flora Parnham, who raised fears that people drinking on the platform would lead to anti-social behaviour.

Objecting to the application, Ms Parnham said: “I have travelled frequently to London for over 14 years by train.

“Alcohol consumption at the station is dangerous due to the trains and crowded platforms.

The consumption on trains is unsocial including people relieving themselves on the platforms, train seats and carriages, especially at night.

“At night in particular it can be intimidating for passengers.

“Slipping on platforms is always a safety issue this will make it worse.

The cafe is near escalators, which poses an additional danger.”

She suggested that if alcohol is sold, it must be in plastic bottles or cans rather than glass to minimise the risk posed by the smashed glass.

Her objection meant a licensing committee meeting was held by Reading Borough Council to decide on the application.

During the meeting, Simon Hilton, operations manager of SSP explained that Café Local will have a mixed product offering of not only food, alcoholic and soft drinks, but also chargers, electric items, umbrellas and toiletries as well.

Sharon Scott, general manager of SSP stated that no issues had been raised at the other SSP sites that sell alcohol in the station, namely the Pumpkin Café on platform 7 and Caffè Ritazza on platform 10.

Mr Hilton added that only individual cans and bottles of alcohol will be sold, clarifying that no multi-packs will be sold.

He said: “We see ourselves as a take out option. ”

Councillor Paul Woodward (Labour, Church) chair of the committee, quipped that he was satisfied that they are not looking to be  “an extension of The Three Guineas.”

The Three Guineas is the main pub that occupies the old station building.

Sharon Scott added that beer and cider cans on sale will range from £3.49 to £4.99, alcoholic mixer cans will cost £4.99, with small bottles of wine priced at £4.79.

The licensing committee granted the licence for Café Local subject to conditions, which lay out a CCTV operation regime and other conditions such as a Challenge 25 age verification policy and a staff training regime with refreshers every 12 months.

The decision was made on Thursday, April 13 by cllr Woodward, cllr Sue Kitchingham (Labour, Caversham Heights) and cllr Louise Keane (Green, Katesgrove).

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre