Council hopes theatre coffee shop venture will be a summer success

THE council is planning to open a coffee shop at Theatre at The Mill to cater for people using the Newtownabbey Way walking and cycling route.

The weekend coffee shop service, which will be operated by catering firm Mount Charles in the foyer of the theatre, is to be run on a trial basis this summer.

Council officers brought the proposal to this month’s Leisure Committee meeting after a number of visitors to the Mill - users of the Newtownabbey Way and those attending exhibitions at the museum - expressed a desire to see a coffee shop facility at the site.

Members were informed that a £3,000 investment will be required by the council in order to pay for staffing costs during the trial period. But it was stressed that that figure is the “maximum cost to the council” and that it will reduce if the service proves successful.

Despite concerns being raised by alderman Billy Ball about the risk of spending £3,000 of ratepayers’ money on a venture that “might never take off”, other councillors argued that it was “a good investment” and “a fantastic opportunity” to improve visitor services and attract more people to the Mill complex.

All members, with the exception of alderman Ball, voted that the coffee shop service should be run on a trial basis on Saturdays and Sundays (10am - 4pm) between March 30 and September 29.

It was also agreed that a report on the financial performance of the facility, likely to be called Yarns Coffee Halt, should be submitted to a meeting of the committee later in the year, after which members will be able to decide whether or not it’s in the council’s interests to retain the service.

The committee’s decision has to be formally ratified when the full council meets on Monday, February 25.