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Popular Bishop's Stortford tea room put up for sale

By Eleanor.Patmore  |  Posted: January 08, 2013

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

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

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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  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  January 09 2013, 11:45AM

    What a shame! Really sad about this as I just can't see it being as good with new owners. Good luck with the op.

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  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  January 09 2013, 11:18AM

    How sad! Get well soon. You've really brought so much pleasure to the town centre. I sincerely hope that whoever takes over will run it in the same manner. Your ham and pickle sandwiches...just amazing!

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  January 08 2013, 1:53PM

    I totally agree with their reasons for selling but is such a shame as they provide such great food and service. I hope so much that someone can take it over and keep it running in the same vein, they've done so well and an Afternoon Tea is a common treat for us! If I had the resources I would love to take over the business...