By Alicia Warner
Another local business may be added to the list of small organisations being shut down before their heavy weight contenders. The Forest Cafe in Edinburgh is under threat of closure as the building that houses it goes up for sale. However, unlike some companies, they are not giving up the fight that easily.
Though the cafe just recently celebrated its 10th birthday in August, the Edinburgh University Settlement have put Bristo Church up for sale. The quaint, volunteer-run establishment plans
to use fundraising events in order to raise the money and purchase the building themselves, starting with one arranged for tomorrow night. With such loyal clientele the cafe remains optimistic about the future projects but they still can’t be sure of the outcome.
With the recent economic climate is it any surprise? Doctor Chris Palmer, the manager and one of the founders of Forest Cafe, understands that they have certainly been hindered by the matter. He explains: “Local shops are being put out, with big names likes Starbucks trading so aggressively. It’s like playing the board game risk or monopoly. The world isn’t a fair place. You have to be aggressive to survive.” The 36-year old also isn’t ruling out the possibility of a move.
Supporters on Facebook haven’t refrained from expressing how they would feel about the loss. One user says: “I noticed there is a for sale sign above the cafe…and I saw a scary looking estate agent in there the other day… Forest is not disappearing soon is it?? I have only just discovered it and think it would be a terrible shame!” while another simply says: “NO FOREST! DON’T GO!”
While some might argue that bigger names such as Tesco mean necessary convenience in our modern and hectic lives, those that defend the likes of the Forest say Edinburgh would lose out significantly if it lost its personal touch. There have been success stories; Edinburgh’s The Bongo Club, set up by the arts and education trust Out of the Blue in 1998, remains strong after financial struggles and lack of external aid. But that appears to be in the minority, as signs of letting agents continue to pop up over vacated shops.
So, is their fight worth it? Palmer thinks it is, regardless of the outcome. He says: “Whatever happens we’re going to need plenty of money. It’ll help us to make the business of Forest more slick.” Despite the sale though, Palmer shows no sign of resentment towards the EUS and states: “in a way we are in debt to the Edinburgh University Settlement. They have been amazing supporters throughout.”