Closed Portsmouth café will soon be buzzing with diners

(l-r) David Harding, Becky Tolson, Jennie Brent, Rachel Parker-Brown, Kerry White.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (141779-1)
(l-r) David Harding, Becky Tolson, Jennie Brent, Rachel Parker-Brown, Kerry White.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (141779-1)

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THE closed café in Portsmouth Central Library will soon be a thriving business once again.

The Portsmouth-based Beneficial Foundation has won a tender to re-open the café and give unemployed people a chance to gain work experience before re-entering the workforce.

Volunteers from the charity are now cleaning and decorating the café, which is on the third floor of the library, ahead of the re-opening on Saturday, July 12.

The café has been closed since late last year as part of council cost-cutting.

Beneficial Foundation chief executive Jennie Brent said she was thrilled about the development.

She said: ‘It’s about giving the volunteers an opportunity to connect with the community and build their self-esteem.

‘We also want to help encourage more people to use the library. And because we also work with horticulture we’re planning on putting some plants there and making it a nicer area for people to come and sit down.’

Ms Brent said the café’s lunch menu would include paninis and jacket potatoes, and there would also options for children and vegetarians.

‘We’re going to try very hard to make it a healthy-eating café,’ she said.

Kerry White, who will become a café supervisor, said: ‘We’ve got miles of potential here and plenty of room for diners.’

David Harding, who will also work at the café, said: ‘I think it’s excellent for our students because they’ll be working with the public.

‘There’s also loads of potential to do private functions.’

Portsmouth City Council library services manager Lindy Elliott said: ‘This is a great piece of partnership working, providing excellent training and work opportunities for the students, while serving delicious and very welcome food and drink.’

The café will be open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10.30am to 3pm on Saturdays.

A council spokesman said progress was being made on finding a new operator for the café in Southsea Library, which was also closed last year.