Property Agency

The rise of the coffee shop mirrors our on-the-go lifestyle but the coffee culture fostered in modern cafés, food courts and leisure plazas represents so much more than a simple desire for a caffeine fix, argues Stephen Power of Barker Storey Matthews – now part of Eddisons.

Coffee Culture: Minding My Own Business


If your daily business involves travelling on the UK’s busy road network or visiting clients in cities or towns then you can’t have failed to notice the number of coffee-centred outlets that now pepper the country.

In many locations – whether by a roadside or in a town – there is more than likely to be a choice of outlets in which to take your chai latte, espresso, americano, cortado, macchiato or your plain English breakfast brew.

Within a few steps out of our office in Huntingdon, I can choose between two Costa Coffee branches – one of them in a newly opened branch of the clothing retailer, Next, and one a stand-alone outlet on the main commercial thoroughfare.

And now Caffe Nero has also opened for business in town too. There’s coffee to have-in or to-go at Greggs and Subway, and I can pop into the cafe at Sainsbury’s or pick up a takeaway coffee from almost any garage forecourt.

There is a tyranny of choice when it comes to coffee shops. A report, ProjectCafé2017, makes for interesting reading in looking at the business growth in the coffee shop sector, as well as positioning the coffee shop as the ‘new local’ in replacing the pub.

The days of the regular boozy business pub lunch are long past. The requirements of modern business and the need to make the most efficient use of time – not to mention the need to keep expenses to a minimum – means the coffee shop is now the place to meet for paninis for lunch or pastries at any time of day.

The bonus is that coffee time in modern coffee culture has no set hours in the modern working world. We can meet to suit schedules.

If either of us is late because we’re stuck on the A14 or the A428 during the upgrade works, we can simply connect to the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi and carry on working.

From a property point of view, the real genius is finding the right site and an anchor coffee shop tenant is now crucial for any food court or leisure plaza development plans.

Roadside and key road interchanges are always obvious sites. In our own patch which includes the Cambridgeshire towns of Huntingdon, St Neots and St Ives as well as points south to Sandy and north as far as Sawtry, we’ve been involved in roadside food courts and coffee shops at Caxton Gibbet and across the whole area down the years.

One of our latest roadside food court instructions is on the edge of St Ives, on the town’s ring road, where Costa Coffee, Subway and McDonald’s have already committed. The food court development is sited opposite the new Morrisons supermarket which is set to open early next year (2018) and will have its own café too.

For more information about food court opportunities and commercial property in Huntingdon and the surrounding areas, please contact Stephen Power on 01480 451578.