THE former boss of a well-known South Shields cafe is re-opening for business in the heart of the town – after moving to make way for a new development.
And John Pringle, 42, believes his customers will find the switch of just 300 yards from one end of King Street to the other a mouth-watering proposition.
He has sold Bar Franchi’s cafe in the Market Place and taken on a 10-year lease at Charleston’s in Mile End Road, with a team of seven staff.
The self-styled “coffee guy” made the move after council chiefs announced plans to demolish Bar Franchi’s – established in the mid-1960s – and other outlets in a major market revamp.
Mr Pringle has given Charleston’s a new look, by redecorating the interior, adding new seats and tables, and introducing a menu based on locally-sourced produce.
He said: “Bar Franchi’s was a coffee institution, it has been around for years and everyone knew it. I hope the same can soon be said of Charleston’s.
“I’m looking forward to seeing my old clientele here, but also plenty of new faces. This will be a warm, friendly place, that serves great coffee and food.
“I wanted to stay in South Shields because the people here encapsulate what I love most about the North East – they are hard-working, honest and loyal.”
The dad-of-three bought Bar Franchi’s in 2002 with a co-partner, but recently sold-up amid South Tyneside Council’s multi-million pound regeneration plans.
The west side of the Market Place is to be demolished as part of a modernisation programme, which has also included the opening of the BT building at Harton Staithes.
Mr Pringle, who started out selling coffee from two train station platform huts in the 1990s, co-owns the trendy Intermezzo Coffee Bar attached to Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema.
Charlestons will be his first solo venture.
The building now occupied by Charleston’s stems from the end of the 19th century and was originally known as The Assembly Rooms.
It has had a number of incarnations including a spell as the North Eastern pub, Ye Olde Sportsmans, and Time bar.