I was shocked to learn that one of my favourite places, the Camelia Botnar Bistro, is to close, together with the gift shop, to become a self-service coffee shop.
It is such a shame. There is a lovely, welcoming atmosphere and the staff are all like old friends, and also, the guilt of eating one of their scrumptious cakes is assuaged by the thought that it is in a good cause!
I would wish that the weight of public opinion would persuade them to change their minds. This is a local asset that is too good to lose.
Nightingale Walk, Billingshurst
Editor’s note: Paul Yallop, general manager at the Camelia Botnar Foundation, responds:
‘Whilst the Foundation has announced changes to the operation of the Bistro and Gift Shop there is no intention of closing down.
‘Sadly the current operations made very significant losses in 2014 and to date this year. Therefore, our Trustees have agreed changes which are intended to remove the deficit in order to protect the long term future of the charity.
‘We will be moving to a more conventional garden centre catering operation with counter rather than waitress service. At the same time, in line with our benefactors’ original wishes, we will be investing into the nursery side of the business and growing more plants using our young people who are the charity’s beneficiaries.
‘It is a difficult time for all involved and we know some customers will not approve of the changes. However, we have found that once matters are explained most people understand the need for us to ensure our charitable funds are spent wisely on our beneficiaries.
‘When the changes are implemented we are confident that existing and new customers will be pleased to support the work we do by visiting us and purchasing the wonderful range of goods made and grown by our skilful trainees and their managers.’
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