Monday, 26 September 2011

New Dorridge cafe and bar opens

THE former HSBC bank in Dorridge will re-open as a café and bar today.


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Dorridge residents Matt and Tina Bullock (above) have given the branch a £150,000 makeover which will open from 6am to as late as midnight.

The Station Café Bar will sell alcohol from 11am to 11pm Sunday to Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday.

Mr Bullock said one resident officially objected to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council when it was considering whether to grant a music and alcohol license.

A meeting with the resident, organised by the council, led to the objection being dropped, he said, after he stressed live music would only be acoustic.

He said the alcohol and music license – reported on The Silhillian – “caused quite a stir”.

Mr Bullock, a village resident for 14 years, said: “When we explained it there were no issues at all. Some people just misinterpreted what we are.”

Mr Bullock, chairman of Dorridge Scout Group and a Dorridge infant and junior school governor, said he initially planned a café without alcohol.

But he said: “When we did the projections, it didn’t stack together so we had to expand what we are doing and the opening hours.”

Mr Bullock said: “We are residents in Dorridge and we just felt there was something missing for the heart of the village, somewhere where people could get everything throughout the day and night.”


The café is being rented from owner Solihull School on a ten year lease with most cash from the Aston Reinvestment Trust, a industrial and provident society funded by companies and individuals.

Banks were “not interested at all” in lending cash, the dad-of-three, said.

He has struck a deal with Heineken, meaning it serves the drink and Fosters on tap, and will sell food such as burgers from next week.

He said: “It is a restaurant, it is very London.”

Yet he said it was not in direct competition with The Forest Hotel.

He said: “We serve drinks, that is the only comparison with them. They have a fantastic restaurant which we are not going to compete with. Our food will be very quick.”

The café is licensed for 44 seats and has converted the downstairs safe – which the 1964 bank was built around – into a room for hire.

Mr Bullock says he is “not worried at all” about the prospect of Sainsbury’s redeveloping Forest Court, on which a decision is awaited by councillors.

The site comprises six independent retail units, though it is not known if one will be a café. It scaled back plans after a bigger scheme was rejected by councillors last year.


Mr Bullock said of the planned store: “We want it developed but it is that balance between size and messing up the village. I think it is still too big.”

Yet he said: “There needs to be something here.”

A VIP party was held on Friday and Saturday night.

The bank announced it was closing in August last year because it was used less because of the rise of telephone and internet banking. It closed in November.

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