Planners put the mochas on caf�: Chatteris businessman facing fight to expand to March

A SUCCESSFUL Chatteris caf� owner is facing a fight to expand to March as 43 food outlets try to keep him out.

Tony Kabaran, owner of Bridge House Restaurant, Chatteris, wants to open an “upmarket, traditional English coffee shop” in the former Cancer Research UK shop in Broad Street, March.

He said: “Competition is healthy - it keeps you on your toes.”

But officers have recommended that Fenland District Council’s Planning Committee refuse his application - and block pizza chain Domino’s bid to open a store opposite.

Councillors at Wednesday’s planning committee meeting will hear that March is “already over saturated” with caf�s and restaurants.

They will be presented with petitions from businesses including March Kebab & Pizza, USA Chicken and Jenny’s Lunchbox pleading for a halt to the influx of competition.

Some of the existing food outlets claim that new restaurants would jeopardise their livelihoods and could result in staff being made redundant.

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But Mr Kabaran, who is planning to spend �100,000 on opening the new coffee shop in March, insists that “competition is healthy”.

He said: “When I came to Chatteris I had an idea of what I could do for the town. I didn’t come here to worry about competition.”

The 54-year-old has owned a string of coffee shops, takeaways and restaurants since moving to England from Cyprus, aged 18. He began trading more than 30 years ago, after buying a kebab van.

His Chatteris caf� has a five-star food hygiene rating and he plans to spend �25,000 on a ventilation system to prevent noise and odour at the March premises.

He said: “I’m not an outsider coming from London. I’m in the next town up and more than 100 of my customers have asked me to move into March.

“We are not going there to put four chairs down and serve coffee, we are investing a lot of money.

“Why should units stay empty? It’s not good for anyone.”

A report set to go before councillors concludes that Mr Kabaran’s plan would have a “detrimental impact on the health of the main shopping core in March”.

It says that food outlets should not “dominate” retail stores and another restaurant could have an “adverse effect on the vitality and viability of the town centre”.

The Domino’s application is recommended for refusal on similar grounds.