Open Kitchen would like to announce that we have taken the decision to remove ourselves from the Minehead Community Cafe, which has been a partnership project with Southway Housing for the last year. The cafe, local shop, community hub and treatment room opened in October 2021 with Open Kitchen offering affordable meals, basic grocery staples, evening events and activities to the local residents, a high proportion of whom are older, and on limited incomes. When the project opened, it was our hope that it might be possible for the cafe to operate as a financially viable business, or to run at a supportable loss, with Open Kitchen’s income generating activities subsidising the Community Cafe, to keep nutritious meal prices affordable for local people. Since May 2022, as energy prices have risen sharply, it has become clear that the Minehead Community Cafe would need a much higher level of grant funding or subsidy than we had originally expected, and that we were now operating in a vastly different economic landscape. Open Kitchen’s energy bills and supplier prices have increased, while at the same time the energy bills of all of our local customers have gone up, to a point where we cannot create a pricing structure in the local area of Old Moat that our customers can afford, and that can support even a proportion of the costs of running the project. Open Kitchen has been carrying the financial losses at the community cafe since it opened, but now with bills across all of our businesses and community projects rising, our organisation cannot continue to support the project, and keep the wider organisation going. We have made a number of enquiries about grant funding to support the project, but have not been able to secure the level of support required. The last day of trading for the cafe will be Sunday 30th October 2022, at which time Open Kitchen will hand the site back to the owners, Southway Housing Association. Southway Housing will be looking at options for the future of the site, and will facilitate the use of the seating area by residents groups. The Treatment Room will remain open to provide services for local residents. We have loved our time serving the local residents of Old Moat, and we hope to be able to engage in future projects to offer services.
Read the full statement here.