SELLING UP: Caffeine Central owners Kym Watson and Steven Calder closing up shop on Monday.
SELLING UP: Caffeine Central owners Kym Watson and Steven Calder closing up shop on Monday. Rachel Vercoe

'Still quite raw' as business bids final farewell

IT WAS with mixed emotions that Kym Watson and Steven Calder from Caffeine Central served their last customers on Friday.

The kiosk in the City Square will be demolished in February as part of an overall plan to revitalise the CBD.

There have been a number of plans put forward for the square with consultants at one point suggesting the removal of both kiosks (the other being occupied by MaMaGOTO) but in November a revised report was presented to council recommending the removal of just the Caffeine Central kiosk at the eastern edge of the square.

The planning process has been highly criticised - even the chairman of the committee tasked to advise council on the upgrade of the City Square was surprised to see the latest plan for the community space.

David Doyle, Chairperson of the CBD Masterplan Committee, only learnt of the revision in the days leading up to the November 8 council meeting.

"Every survey that we have done, over the last six years, has said to us as a committee: 'we want the kiosks to stay'," Mr Doyle said.

Despite his objections councillors voted to approve the plan with demolition slated for February this year.

A staff report had determined that the Caffeine Central kiosk: 'effectively privatises what could otherwise be maximised public space and disrupts important view lines and pedestrian movement, which impacts on public space and business opportunities in the adjoining private holdings'.

The MaMaGOTO kiosk was deemed to be a: 'very different business and public space activation dynamic along the western edge of the square'.

The uncertainty has taken its toll on both operators.

Kym Watson estimates that in the four years they've owned Caffeine Central there has been four or five revisions to the City Square plan, but from a business perspective it's an arrangement that suits them as they'd been looking to sell the business for a number of years.

Packing up on Monday the couple said it has been an emotional time saying farewell to their loyal customers.

"It's brought back memories of when we started and now it's all the reverse - we're cleaning up and selling all the equipment," she said.

"Our regulars keep coming past and having those last chats which is lovely but it's still quite emotional. It's still quite raw but I'm sure once we've handed the keys back we will breathe a sigh of relief and do something else."

Their plans for now are simply to have a break.

"It's been four years of solid work - we haven't had a break in all that time," Kym said.