Financial problems force Belfast cafe to close
A Belfast cafe which has been serving Christmas Day meals to people in need for more than a decade is set to close due to financial difficulties.
The directors of Common Grounds cafe released a statement on social media in which they said it is time to "focus on the next chapter" but expressed hope that they will be able to continue the festive gesture.
"After more than 14 years of serving coffees and connecting with people, we've decided to close down the cafe element of Common Grounds on 25th May," they said. "We know that Common Grounds has always been more than a cafe, but for us to keep the doors open means that we have to be financially sustainable."
The statement on behalf of the University Avenue cafe described the past few years as "tough", which has meant "we haven't covered our costs" despite efforts to introduce changes.
The social enterprise cafe was set up 14 years ago and has put on a three-course Christmas dinner of turkey (with a halal option), stuffing, cooked ham, and roast potatoes since 2007 in partnership with City Church Belfast - it has served up an estimated 2,500 slices of turkey, 5,000 roast potatoes, and 6,000 Brussels sprouts.
The directors said it was "a difficult decision" to close the cafe, which has "touched many lives" since it opened its doors.
Common Grounds will remain open as a community space and continue to facilitate meetings for Belfast Friendship Club, Global Kitchen, South Belfast Foodbank, City Church and local residents' groups for the near future.
Phil, Lucy and Darren have encouraged everyone who has had connections with the cafe in the past to call in and say goodbye before May 25.