One of Manchester’s best-loved independent cafes has been ordered to close its popular takeaway coffee cart in Prestwich by the council.
Federal Cafe Bar – known for bringing “Antipodean happiness to Manchester” – has developed a loyal following of customers since opening its first city centre branch in the Northern Quarter in 2014 and its second site on Deansgate in 2019, but due to several lockdowns and ongoing restrictions amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, both sites have been restricted to takeaway-only services.
So, in an attempt to boost trade and bring some staff back from furlough, owner Claudio Ribeiro decided to open a coffee cart in Altrincham Market back in January – and it proved to be a massive hit.
Acting on the popularity of the Altrincham endeavour, Mr Ribero said he wanted to the do the same in his hometown of Prestwich to try and “bring something different” to the area, so he struck a deal with brewers to set up outside local pub The White Horse two weeks ago.
In the two days the cart was there, it went down a treat with locals and walkers alike.
But sadly, Bury Council has since ordered Federal to move on as it says the the coffee cart was operating in a ‘legally prohibited trading zone’, which covers the area between Bury New Road, Fairfax Road and Rectory Lane in Prestwich town centre.
Speaking to the MEN on the short-lived success of the Prestwich cart, Claudio Ribiero said: “The two days we were there, we did really well.
“We sold about 200 coffees each day.
“I was on private land, so I thought it would be fine if I paid a little bit to the pub [but] obviously that was incorrect and I needed to apply for a licence.”
Although Mr Ribero has admitted that he “should have checked” with the council first, he believes they could have done more to work with him and claims that when he asked whether he could apply for a licence to trade in the area, he was told not to bother by council officials.
He also suspects another business may have complained to the council about the coffee cart too.
“It’s a shame because I would like to go back there,” Mr Ribeiro continued.
“I’m not trying to interfere with anybody else, we are just trying to get back to normal and trade in some way [and] I live in Prestwich and pay my council tax to Bury Council.
“We should have checked, but the council could also have tried to understand that things are a little difficult right now.
“If the [Manchester City Council] had the same view, we would never have been able to open last summer [so] why can’t Bury Council do something like that and allow [Prestwich town centre] to be a little more alive?
“I think they need to be a little more open-minded.”
In response to Mr Ribero’s comments, a spokesperson for Bury Council said: “We have every sympathy for businesses who have suffered during the coronavirus lockdowns, and will do everything we can to help them through these difficult times.
“This person, however, had unknowingly set up in a legally prohibited trading zone.
“This has covered the central shopping district of Prestwich village since 1997, and is there to protect the interests of local businesses. He can, though, trade outside this zone, as long as he applies for a street trading permit, which would also allow our environmental health officers to ensure that his premises (van) meet food safety standards.
“We have sent him the relevant application forms and have been assisting him with the process.”