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Shop Local: Cafe owner in Limehouse reveals impact of lockdown on trade

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 November 2020 | UPDATED: 09:36 09 November 2020

Linda Cross outside Vesuvio Cafe. Picture: Olive Enokido-Lineham

Linda Cross outside Vesuvio Cafe. Picture: Olive Enokido-Lineham

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Ineligible for the government’s financial support schemes and with a second lockdown beginning this week, the co-owner of a cafe in Limehouse has urged people to support independent businesses.

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After 36 years as a civil servant, Linda Cross and her partner Mario Masserini bought Vesuvio Cafe on Three Colt Street from its former owners with in February, just before the first lockdown started.

She said: “My partner came back on the day that the announcement was made that businesses had to close, you couldn’t really make it up.

“I think it was at the worst possible time it could have been”.

Linda explained that as it was unregistered as an established business by the government deadline in March, it was ineligible for any financial support from the furlough scheme.

She said: “We’re one of those who’ve fallen through the cracks in that we’re a new business.”

“It’s unfortunate timing. Two weeks earlier we could have probably have made payments at the end of February and qualified for the scheme.”

She added that the cafe, which received a grant from Tower Hamlets Council, cannot claim support from the new job retention scheme either.

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The couple, who met on a cruise in the South China Sea in 2014, reopened the cafe for takeaway in May.

Since July, they have utilised the cafe’s outdoor space for customers which boosted business and introduced home-made Italian daily specials.

But with winter approaching and the second lockdown beginning today, Thursday, November 5, Linda has warned of the challenges ahead.

She said: “I think
the real winter months
are going to be quite difficult.”

But Linda is optimistic by the shifting customer base with new customers who work from home.

She said: “We get a lot of good support from people locally, it’s wonderful.

“People around here are looking for something different, something
that’s fresh and home-made.

“We’re here and
we’re surviving so that’s good.”

The new lockdown is expected to last until December 2 but Boris Johnson has warned it could be extended.


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