Horsham cafes get ready to bring back ‘a bit of normality’

Cafes in and around Horsham are getting ready to bring back ‘a bit of normality’ after the harsh past year since the pandemic struck.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 11:08 am

They are preparing to open up outdoor dining once Government Covid restrictions are eased next month.

And - like many throughout the district - they are looking forward to it.

Benita Wright, who runs the Kaya cafe in Horsham Park with business partner Candice Klopper, said: “We really just can’t wait for summer to be normal and have people outside and just have a bit of normality.”

Alfredo Aquilina runs the Old Mill Cafe
Alfredo Aquilina runs the Old Mill Cafe

Kaya has proved a lifeline for many during lockdown and has become a popular takeaway food and drink destination. “We really have become a sanctuary for people to come to and have a bit of comfort,” said Benita.

“This whole situation has been really bad for everyone but Kaya has really tried to just be a little bit of the heart and soul of the park for everyone to come together. Kaya means ‘happy place to meet’.”

Now she and Candice are planning to introduce a sit-down outdoor dining service once restrictions are lifted from April 12. And they are hoping for planning approval to set up an outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven and barbecue.

Italian family-run business Paninos - with cafes in Horsham’s Carfax and at Roffey - has also been looking after the community by running a takeaway and free delivery service during lockdown.

Tracey Dowse, owner of the Little Bean Cafe at Billingshurst and Pulborough

And, said director Franco Barozzi, they are now also looking forward to re-introducing outside dining in April.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “It is not only good for us but it also means we will be connecting with people.

“We have been here for 30 years and we know many people, from children to grown-ups - it will be nice to reconnect.”

The Little Teahouse in Lintot Square, Southwater, is planning to start takeaways from this week after prime minister Boris Johnson announced that regulations would allow people to meet up with a friend for a coffee or a picnic from today (March 8).

Franco Barozzi, director of Paninos

Ann Smith who runs the teahouse with her daughter Caitlin said: “This village is wonderful. We are so touched by the support we have had from the village. I can’t put it into words how wonderful it is.

“Every time we have come back after lockdown everyone has said ‘We’ll be there, don’t worry’ - and they have come and supported us.”

Also thankful for community support is the Little Bean Cafe, which has branches in Billingshurst and Pulborough.

Owner Tracey Dowse said: “We have only been open for a year, but we’re still here. The community have been very supportive.”

She said they would be serving customers outdoors from April 12 and were looking forward to once again having indoor dining from May 17.

“We’re also going to be opening in the evenings in the future,” she said.

She said they had applied for an alcohol license and plan to sell local ales and wines and offer tapas-style sharing dishes.

Alfredo Aquilina owns the Old Mill Cafe in Wisborough Green and has kept his business open during the pandemic as he also operates a deli service along with Italian products, fresh fruit and vegetables.

He has also been offering a takeaway service but is looking forward to outside dining under cover this spring.

“I am ready,” he said. “All my tables are ready. It will be lovely.”

Yvonne Laing, owner of Cafe No 4 in Horsham’s Market Square, is also looking forward to welcoming back outside diners from April 12.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I just hope this is the last lockdown.”

Yvonne has been operating a weekend takeaway service but also offers a click-and-collect homeware service with items for the home on offer such as cushions,rugs,lamps and decorative items - along with food and drinks.

Now she is also hoping to run some tapas evenings. “We are well known for our menu,” said Yvonne, “but we also do alcohol: beers, wines - and gin.”