Popular Croydon café to become members club to pay bills – South London News

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

A popular Croydon café which hasn’t been able to pay its staff is set to become a members club for most of the week in a bid to stay afloat.

Matthews Yard, close to West Croydon Station, has called the plan its “final gamble” to remain open.

It comes four months after the venue announced it would have to close within a week as it had struggled to pay rent and was being threatened with bailiffs by the landlord.

Following an outpouring of support from locals, it was saved after they pledged more than £12,000 and the business was able to sort out a payment plan with its landlord.

But now this payment plan has ended, as has government support with energy bills, Matthews Yard is struggling again to keep up with rising costs.

In an update, it revealed it has not been able to pay this month’s rent fully or staff’s full wages.

Matthews Yard was set up by Saif Bonar and Leoni Descartes in 2012. It was originally based in Surrey Street but moved to the former Maplin store in North End in 2020.

The business said: “Leoni recently likened running Matthews Yard to a gambling addiction. We keep convincing ourselves one more roll of the dice would lead to a change in fortunes. It’s probably the perfect analogy for the past 11 years.

“With each reinvention of Matthews Yard, we have bought more time, but we’ve never won the jackpot we crave; stability and security.”

It added that the West Croydon location is “dogged with safety and security concerns” meaning two members of staff need to be on-site when it opens.

Now plans to become a members club will come into action on May 1.

Members would have to pay £28 a month to access the space and soft play area as well as getting 20 per cent off food and drink.

At first, it will run as a members-only space from Monday to Thursday and remain open for all from Friday to Sunday. A hatch open to the street will still offer coffee and snacks for anyone.

Matthews Yard added: “These changes won’t work for everyone. But they are the only way to survive the economic downturn while keeping our team and our customers safe.”

Pictured top: Matthews Yard in North End, Croydon (Picture: Google Street View)


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