12:20 Tuesday 08 January 2013

Popular Bishop's Stortford tea room put up for sale

Written byEleanor Patmore

A POPULAR cafe in Bishop’s Stortford has been put up for sale as the owner prepares for major surgery.

Simon Jones (left) with his mother Debbie and grandparents Bill and Julie Wheatley at South Street Pantry
Simon Jones (left) with his mother Debbie and grandparents Bill and Julie Wheatley at South Street Pantry

The South Street Pantry is on the market as head baker Debbie Jones, who runs the traditional tea room with son Simon, faces a “make or break” operation to save her foot.

The diabetes sufferer, who has lost several toes and has already undergone the partial amputation of one foot, faces at least a 12-month recovery should the operation go ahead.

Simon, 23, said it was with great sadness that they had to sell The Pantry, which he said had been hugely successful in the three years since it opened, but that running the family business was “all or nothing” and his mother’s health meant they could no longer maintain the same commitment.

“We’ve come to a point with her health that she needs this make or break operation to have her foot reconstructed or there’s a chance she’ll lose it,” he said. “If the operation goes to plan she’ll be in a wheelchair for 12 to 18 months while she recovers.

“We said from the start that it was both of us or none of us but we are selling reluctantly. About six months ago when Mum’s health was looking better we were looking at another site, but unfortunately things have gone the other way.”

The Pantry, which was originally called Delicious, was launched by the Jones family in January 2010 with the aim of reinventing the British art of afternoon tea. Its assortment of teatime fancies and other dishes are all handmade on the premises and the café employs 12 full and part-time staff.

Simon said ideally they would like to see the shop taken over by an employee or one of their army of loyal customers.

“It would be lovely to see it being run in the same vein,” he said. “It’s been our baby.”

He added: “I don’t feel like I’ve worked for the last three years because I’ve enjoyed it so much. Our employees and customers are such lovely people and they’ve become our friends and family. It will be very difficult for us to say goodbye.”

The leasehold for The Pantry and the two-bedroom flat above the shop is being advertised by property expert GPS-Direct with a £175,000 price tag.

Offering up to 40 covers, the premises has a well-equipped modern kitchen as well as a courtyard area.

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