Cafe owner insists controversial park branding well received

Controversial cafe owner: 'People will vote with their feet'

Controversial cafe owner: 'People will vote with their feet'

Controversial cafe owner: 'People will vote with their feet'

Controversial cafe owner: 'People will vote with their feet'

First published in News by , Reporter

A CONTROVERSIAL park cafe has opened its doors for the first time, with the owner insisting it has been well received despite objections to the arrival of the national chain.

Costa Coffee served its first drink last Saturday after taking over the lease for the cafe building in Higginson Park.

Criticisms have been levelled at the national brand moving into the cafe, which is looked after by Wycombe District as the sole trustee for Higginson Park.

Objectors to the plans claim the picturesque park views are being ruined by the advertising signs and branding erected around the council-owned cafe.

But Paul Messenger, who runs 20 Costa stores under his franchise Coffee Snobs including the one on West Street, said Marlovians have welcomed the new cafe and insists his business is anything but a faceless corporation.

He said: "The general feeling is we have been well received, we had a really busy weekend and even today (Tuesday) it has been steady.

"The feedback we’ve had is that it seems to be an improvement, people we’ve spoken to have been happy and seem to be enjoying it. We have invested a lot in it and we have a whole new shopfront.

"Costa is a brand and undoubtedly some people have a problem with brands. But the other side of it is we’re a small growing company and we’re trying to build it up and employ local people in our two cafes in town.

"I understand people don’t want High Streets and towns to look the same, but brands do bring people in and they vote with their feet. It’s about getting the mixture right between brands and independents."

Cafe in the Park, the former independent leaseholder of the site, approached Coffee Snobs to offer them a takeover on the remainder of the 10-year-lease.

Carly Trisk-Grove, who runs a successful cafe in Rickmansworth, told the MFP the high rents and problems with the shelter-like building meant only a national chain with spending power could make the venture a real success.

Mr Messenger and his team have gutted the park building and intend to install air conditioning to overcome the problems of heating the shelter.

Costa signage has already been installed under 'deemed consent' rules for advertising, with the firm seeking planning permission for the shopfront changes.

The Marlow Society, which campaigns for the preservation and sensitive development of Marlow, objected to the plans.

Member Bob Savidge told the MFP the Costa branding destroys the largely unspoilt views in the park, and warns this could set a precedent for the commercialisation of the park.

Society chairman Martin Blunkell said: "The signs are ugly, spoil the appearance of the cafe and introduce advertising in to the one place in Marlow spared such visual intrusion at present. Col Higginson is probably turning in his grave!"

And Michael New, Marlow charity founder and OBE, complained to the MFP that the number of Costa advertisments, signs and umbrealla logos are overbearing.

But Mr Messenger claims the park is already a commercial area, with fairground merry-go-rounds and bouncy castles taking money from visitors on a regular basis.

Comments (6)

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9:05am Sun 13 Apr 14

gpn01 says...

Isn't the idea of a park that it should provide facilities and amenity? Having a cafe/coffee shop seems quite in keeping with providing facilities to visitors. The logos etc. are actually quite sympathetic to the character of the site and only detract from the aesthetics if you decide they do. I suspect that having an onsite Costa will add to the attractiveness of the park rather thandetract and will result in more visitors not fewer.
Isn't the idea of a park that it should provide facilities and amenity? Having a cafe/coffee shop seems quite in keeping with providing facilities to visitors. The logos etc. are actually quite sympathetic to the character of the site and only detract from the aesthetics if you decide they do. I suspect that having an onsite Costa will add to the attractiveness of the park rather thandetract and will result in more visitors not fewer. gpn01
  • Score: 16

11:05am Sun 13 Apr 14

Bookermum says...

I for one am looking forward to a lovely Costa coffee! & the positioning of the other shop at the far end of the high street should mean that both have enough custom!
The only thing I'll
Miss about the old coffee shop is the range of food!!
Good luck Costa.
I for one am looking forward to a lovely Costa coffee! & the positioning of the other shop at the far end of the high street should mean that both have enough custom! The only thing I'll Miss about the old coffee shop is the range of food!! Good luck Costa. Bookermum
  • Score: 12

1:37pm Sun 13 Apr 14

stonemanfamily says...

The BFP / MFP always seems to give undue weight to a small group of protestors' opinions. I am sure that the majority of people using the park will welcome the arrival of Costa. The story is also inconsistent. In the opening paragraphs it explains that the store is being opened by "Paul Messenger, who runs 20 Costa stores under his Francise Coffee Snobs" but then in a later paragraph claims "only national chain with spending power could make the venture a real success" but the store in Marlow is not part of a national chain it is owned by a local business man with coffee shops in Beaconsfield, Berkhamsted, Marlow, Potters Bar, Princes Risborough, Ruislip, South Harrow, Stanmore, Stockley Park, Tring, Wendover who is a Costa Coffee franchisee. I suspect people will vote with their feet and it wont be long before the shop is packed out.
The BFP / MFP always seems to give undue weight to a small group of protestors' opinions. I am sure that the majority of people using the park will welcome the arrival of Costa. The story is also inconsistent. In the opening paragraphs it explains that the store is being opened by "Paul Messenger, who runs 20 Costa stores under his Francise Coffee Snobs" but then in a later paragraph claims "only national chain with spending power could make the venture a real success" but the store in Marlow is not part of a national chain it is owned by a local business man with coffee shops in Beaconsfield, Berkhamsted, Marlow, Potters Bar, Princes Risborough, Ruislip, South Harrow, Stanmore, Stockley Park, Tring, Wendover who is a Costa Coffee franchisee. I suspect people will vote with their feet and it wont be long before the shop is packed out. stonemanfamily
  • Score: 8

10:07pm Sun 13 Apr 14

EricBrown says...

I agree with the above and it's typical BFP trying to make a headline out of a non story. I am sure more parents will flock to the park now there is a Costa there, plus pick up passing trade. It will be a great success. And Costa actually pay corporation tax unlike that other well known 'amercan' coffee chain, so even more reason to support them. A good decision all round.
I agree with the above and it's typical BFP trying to make a headline out of a non story. I am sure more parents will flock to the park now there is a Costa there, plus pick up passing trade. It will be a great success. And Costa actually pay corporation tax unlike that other well known 'amercan' coffee chain, so even more reason to support them. A good decision all round. EricBrown
  • Score: 7

3:42pm Mon 14 Apr 14

geoffW says...

Could Mr Messenger tell us all if his company pays the same (and proper) amount of tax as other types of business in the town, or does he benefit from loopholes through his multinational connections?
Could Mr Messenger tell us all if his company pays the same (and proper) amount of tax as other types of business in the town, or does he benefit from loopholes through his multinational connections? geoffW
  • Score: -3

12:23pm Wed 16 Apr 14

MrEeee says...

As a regular visitor to the park with my family, what I am now seeing is, a cafe that has better opening hours at either end of the day, has shorter queues for the customers (so far), has more external seating available and has inoffensive branding. I cant really see the downside from a consumer perspective. All of these things are what the majority of the cafe / park users would want. I agree the food from the previous incumbents was exceptional, but there are plenty of other improvements that address the majority of the customers priorities. A positive step in my opinion.
As a regular visitor to the park with my family, what I am now seeing is, a cafe that has better opening hours at either end of the day, has shorter queues for the customers (so far), has more external seating available and has inoffensive branding. I cant really see the downside from a consumer perspective. All of these things are what the majority of the cafe / park users would want. I agree the food from the previous incumbents was exceptional, but there are plenty of other improvements that address the majority of the customers priorities. A positive step in my opinion. MrEeee
  • Score: 3

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