Lochside Garage

Early birds have little appetite for evening cafes


Hazel Johnston, owner of the award-winning Jolly Sandwich, Enniskillen, who said in her experience few would frequent evening cafes in Enniskillen.

IT’S a common complaint that, aside from pubs, there’s little to do in Enniskillen after 6pm. However, according to local cafe owners, there’s no appetite for an evening coffee culture in the town.

A recent initiative in Derry has seen cafes in the city centre organise a rota system to ensure there is at least one cafe open until at least 10pm every day. The Walled City Open Coffee project has been an instant success, proving a big hit among locals and tourists, with musicians even playing in the cafes, creating an vibrant yet alcohol-free social scene.


So, could a similar scheme work in Enniskillen? One local business leader said she loved the idea, however local cafe owners were less enthusiastic.

Noelle McAloon, manager of Enniskillen BID, said the initiative would fit their business plan to enhance the local “twilight economy.”

“One of the things we did when we were doing the business plan was talk to everyone. There was certainly an element of getting more people into town after 5pm. That whole twilight economy,” she said.

“Bars and restaurants were busy on a Friday and Saturday night, but it was about trying to encourage people in during the week. So something like that would be one, achievable, and two, would have immediate benefit, and three, BID would be able to support that.”

However, the two local cafe proprietors the Herald spoke to said such an initiative just wouldn’t be practical for one simple reason – the people of Enniskillen are early risers.

Hazel Johnston from the Jolly Sandwich said her staff began working as early as 4am, and the coffee shop opened around 6.30am.

“I know it’s a good idea, and we have been asked and sometimes we do have private functions in the evening, but we are wrecked,” said Ms Johnston.


She added: “We have stayed open later in the evening on a couple of occasions, but it’s actually been dead. Even with the late night shopping at Christmas, people are shopping and it’s not worth it.”

Sharon Morrison from Rebecca’s Cafe at the Buttermarket said they too baked their own produce and therefore started work very early in the morning, which would make it difficult to get staff to work later in the evening.

“At the moment it’s not a situation we’d get ourselves to do, but that is not to say that in future I wouldn’t do it,” she said.

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