Popular Barnham station café to close

Danny Berhane is closing his kiosk on Barnham Station on Sunday
Danny Berhane is closing his kiosk on Barnham Station on Sunday

A second railway station café business will close after claims of unreasonable demands being imposed.

Danny Berhane, who has run the Whistle Stop Café on Barnham station for nearly 15 years, will serve his last hot drink there this Saturday.

It follows the closure of Nathan’s Café in Bognor station earlier this month.

Like the owners of Nathan’s, Mr Berhane was told he would have to update his café to get a new lease.

“It’s all caused me so much stress. I did get offered a five-year lease, but they said I would have to do it up which would cost £20,000,” he said.

“Why would I spend that amount of money when after then they could just get someone else in? I’m not allowed to sell it anyway.

“Plus they want to put my rent up from £8,000 a year to £10,000.

“They also said they need to see all my paperwork every three months, and would take ten per cent of my turnover if it’s over a certain amount.”

Mr Berhane’s customers have expressed sadness at him closing his kiosk.

Peter Newman said: “I’ve been through here for about 12 years so it will be very strange without Danny.

“There’s a really nice community at Barnham, everyone knows each other and Danny’s a big part of it.

“I feel very sorry for him because he does extremely long hours. The decision by his landlord is clearly financially driven.”

Mr Berhane says he regularly works at least 12-hour days, opening at 5am and closing at 7pm.

“I do it for the customers, I know 90 per cent of them by name and you wouldn’t believe the amount of gifts I get at Christmas,” he said.

“I’m not sure what I’ll do now. I feel so bad, I don’t know how to tell my customers.”

A spokesman for GTR, which operates Southern, said: “Mr Berhane won the lease to keep the café when we retendered it last summer and agreed the terms he is now trying to renegotiate.

“As part of the lease he was asked to improve the look of this small café but no figure was set down.

“It is he who has said £20,000 needs to be invested, which is surprising given the size of the café.

“We are sorry he wants to go but there are others willing to take over the tenancy.”

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