New cafe bar set to move into former Dorothy Perkins store in St Neots

The Dorothy Perkins store in St Neots High Street closed down last August. 

The Dorothy Perkins store in St Neots High Street closed down last August. - Credit: Cambridgeshire Archives

Cafe-bar firm Loungers is set to open a branch in the former Dorothy Perkins store in St Neots Market Square this summer, creating up to 30 full and part-time jobs.
Mayor Cllr Stephen Ferguson said: “It is fantastic news for St Neots, really good news.
“I think it will add to the continental-style vibe we are trying to create in the Market Square.”

West-country based Loungers, which has the Olmo Lounge in Huntingdon, has applied to Huntingdonshire District Council for a premises licence at the building and expects to spend up to £850,000 on converting it into a cafe-bar and restaurant.

Acquisitions director Raj Manek said: “We have been looking for something like four years which was longer than we were looking in Huntingdon, but had to wait for something to come up.
“We wanted something in the high street and are pleased that this site is opposite the Market Square.”

Mr Manek said they had looked at a number of potential sites, including part of Barretts, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and the Old Falcon Hotel on the Market Square, before Dorothy Perkins became available.
He said they had been working on a deal for about a year which they had achieved on “sensible terms” with landlords realising the wider benefits occupation of the property for the town.

“It has been a strange year last year with Covid. We had been looking at the property for a year and we had hoped to get the keys in March. We are now looking at opening in the summer,” Mr Manek said.
At present the cafe-bars, which are family oriented and provide food throughout the day with alcoholic drinks being secondary to the meals, are closed because of the coronavirus regulations and the opening of the St Neots branch will depend on the lifting of the lockdowns.

Mr Manek said: “We are looking at creating about 30 jobs in total, 15 full-time and 10 to 15 part-time or on shifts, and we expect to spend £800,000 to £850,000 on converting the building.”
The firm is trying to come up with a name for the outlet in Italian, Spanish or Portuguese which must end in an O.

Obvious ones like Market or Bridge have already been taken by other bars at the chain which has around 150 Loungers and 30 Cosy Clubs restaurants.

Cllr Ferguson said: “It is extremely good that someone wants to make an investment like this in St Neots which shows they have got a lot of faith in the town.”
He said it was particularly good news that Loungers was part of the hospitality industry which had been badly-hit by the coronavirus crisis and was still prepared to invest.