Who will bid to run cafés in our parks?

The future of Bristol’s park cafes is causing some concerns amongst those who value the contribution of local independents. Last year, Bristol City Council informed the café owners that they would have to bid for their licences and the process would effectively be ‘blind’ so they would not know how much money someone else, who wanted to take their business from them, would be bidding. This has prompted fears that individual cafés may become branches of a large chain rather than giving opportunities to local independent providers.

Bristol City Council said: “We are about to start a process to decide who should run the mobile food outlets within our parks and green spaces. We have a responsibility to ensure that a fair process takes place when allocating these sites and, for that reason, a formal process will be undertaken. We also recognise the need to ensure that local traders are not disadvantaged, however current licenses will not automatically be renewed.”

“The vision is to have a variety of mobile vendors across our parks that offer refreshments that are varied and meet the needs of all park users. We are also looking to provide an overall offer that is good quality, environmentally sound and ethical, and which also brings in an income which will contribute to the maintenance of the city’s parks. We will hold an open session for interested parties as part of the process, at which we will talk about the existing pitches, and also assess whether there are additional sites that traders are interested in bidding for so that we can undertake a further tender process ready for next year.”

BristolPost reported last year that Emily and Elliot, who ran Mrs Brown’s café in Victoria Park, retired rather than face the stress and uncertainty of the process. 

BristolPost: After several years, Emily and Elliot are selling the mobile cafe in Victoria Park