Hot Gossip opened its new doors at its new location on Reading Road (previously the Bohun Gallery) last Thursday with many regulars returning to enjoy the new coffee shop with its bright and airy atmosphere and new offerings.
The new cafe has a seating area at the front and a conservatory with seats through the lovely courtyard garden at the rear which will also offer seating in the warmer months. The menu offers all the original sandwiches, cakes and soups but now includes more vegetarian and vegan choices plus more different milks including oat. The takeaway cups are now fully recyclable and are continued to be sponsored by Wilkins of Henley.
The cafe is owned by Lorraine Hillier who opened the original shop in Friday Street 12 years ago which closed in September. She said, “It is quite challenging, when you’re away for a few months, you don’t know how it is going to be and how people feel. Where we were, the environment was part of the appeal and you hope that you please everyone when you reemerge elsewhere. I’m very pleased with the finished shop. I’d like to thank the guys that did the work, they’ve done such a lovely job. Thank you to Mark, Dean, Paul and George and I’d like to especially thank Justin. It’s taken longer because of background work and finding out what we needed. The plumbing was challenging. In many ways it’s easier because I’ve done it before but it’s getting used to the constraints that we’ve got here.”
Lorraine has invested in a new EPOS (electronic point of sale), she said, “We were always a cash business, but that’s me being a bit of a dinosaur not accepting change when you should. So I realised we need to get up to speed and we can now take cards and Apple pay and we’ve installed WiFi.”
Darius who has been a regular customer at Hot Gossip for a number of years said, “I like this coffee shop because it has a kind of informal and friendly atmosphere and it’s reasonably priced. I’ve really missed the cafe and have been longing for it to reopen. We used to come every couple of weeks. The new cafe is very clean, I like the decor and it’s nice to see the jukebox back.”
Seeing those familiar faces coming through the door, how did Lorraine feel, “It was lovely and so exciting. You see people in the street who ask you when you’re opening up. Then there’s people that I haven’t seen and I think how can I get in touch with them. I’d left a notice but that had been taken down. One customer said, “It all seems a bit surreal, I know we’re in the right place as I recognise you! But we know we’re in a different place. That’s how I felt. It’s getting used to that change of environment.”