A CAMPAIGN to save a Sheffield park café from closure is hotting up.
Five hundred names are on a petition that urges the council to keep open the café in the old hall in Whirlowbrook Park, off Ecclesall Road South.
The café is due to close from the end of October because the authority says it is unable to find an operator prepared to run the café as well as the main part of the hall, which is used for weddings and other functions,
Petitioners say they are “totally devastated” at the prospect of losing the café, “which has been a big part of the community for many years, enjoyed by the old and the young”.
One couple say their have been visitors for more than 60 years. They are now 80 and still come every week for lunch and a stroll in the grounds.
“Please keep it as it is, somewhere for everyone,” they plead.
The hall and café are currently run by the Fretwell Downing Group, but it is pulling out to concentrate on its business at the Maynard in Grindleford.
The Kudos Group, which already runs hospitality at the Cutlers Hall, will take over from the end of October after winning a 25-year contract.
As part of the tender process, the council invited potential operators to indicate if they could continue with the café, but no viable bid for the hall was received which included the café.
To help compensate, the authority is looking for an operator willing to provide a kiosk or refreshment service elsewhere in the park, and hopes to have one in place by the spring.
But the loss of the café, with its terrace offering spectacular views of the park and the valley, is a blow to customers.
“This café offers what no other Sheffield park café can,” says one person who has signed the petition. “Its peace and tranquillity in beautiful landscaped gardens is unsurpassed.
“It is enjoyed by many and the reopening in summertime hours is eagerly awaited.
“People who have had weddings here return to remember their special day.”
Another describes it as a childhood favourite, which is “still my favourite place at 63!
“Please don’t close this café. Tea on the terrace is the favourite of many, many Sheffielders.”
A five-year-old says: “Please keep my grandad’s café open.”