Bitter taste for Swansea couple as cafe limits opening
A PROUD Swansea couple have spoken of the heartache of closing their once-thriving cafe five days a week.
Mark and Marlene Meadon blamed a slump in footfall, rising bills and a "mess" of a city centre.
It is not au revoir for La Baguette du Jour, but its founders said they planned to make a decision on the Caer Street premises before the year was out.
The cafe is currently open on Fridays and Saturdays following a 60 per cent drop in sales over the past three years.
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"It has been three years of worry and tears," said Mr Meadon.
The Morriston couple said promotions, quirky events such as belly dancing, and special offers — including a large cappuccino and two slices of toast for 99p — had not worked.
And their woes come despite the coverage of the 2012 Olympics on the big screen opposite on Castle Square.
While it is not all doom and gloom in the city centre, La Tasca in Wind Street announced closure plans last week while nearby casino Aspers has also shut, blaming a lack of business.
Mr and Mrs Meadon said they had heard teary stories of traders re-mortgaging their homes, cashing savings and paying themselves minimum wage at city centre tenants' association meetings.
"We have seen a dramatic drop in city centre footfall," said Mr Meadon, 59.
"Our heart is in Swansea — we have been here 20 years."
Mrs Meadon, 57, said: "We have been a successful business. We still want to trade here. I love this shop, I really do. Our customers are lovely. They appreciate what we do."
The couple said the recession was the principal factor in the footfall slump, but reckoned many people preferred shopping in out-of-town retail parks or hopping on the bus to Cardiff.
And, in their view, the layout of Swansea city centre was a mess. "People don't know where to go," said Mrs Meadon.
The couple welcomed city events such as June's Swansea Festival of Transport, which packed the streets, and the one-off Olympic torch relay.
Mr and Mrs Meadon built their award-winning business from a van and at one time had five cafes — three in Swansea and two in Cardiff.
Now they operate part-time from Caer Street and also from Eddershaws furniture store at Swansea Enterprise Park, which they conceded was going okay.
Last week, Swansea Business Improvement District chief executive Russell Greenslade said that "commercially astute businesses" were continuing to invest and create jobs in the city.
Mrs Meadon said: "We have tried everything to keep it (Caer Street) going."