A quarter of a century of tradition came to an end on Broadway this week when the Well cafe closed its doors to customers for the last time.
The Christian cafe operated from a number of different locations around the Broadway area in Douglas since it first opened in 1988.
The Reverend Bill Leishman said the organisation had been mainly a bookshop when it first opened.
‘I believe it actually started off using premises up on Murray’s Road,’ he said.
The shop then moved to occupy new premises at the bottom of Broadway where it also changed to become a bookshop combined with a cafe.
‘Later on after that, the church bought the two adjacent guest houses and the cafe moved again to take up a space there. It also became a rather bigger entity at the same time,’ he said.
The name – The Well cafe – he said referred to it being a place of refreshment: ‘It’s a non-commercial organisation but it is somewhere that people can come and spend time and make connections and acccess other resources as well.’
After that the cafe branched out employing a full-time chef, part-time manager and a team of volunteers, doing proper restaurant meals as well as light refreshments but sadly trade has now diminshed.
‘Times have changed,’ Mr Leishman said. ‘In recent years we’ve not had the same level of custom and some of the things that the Well did are happening in other ways now.’
A factor in the cafe’s decline is perhaps its location, he said, on a busy road where parking for customers can be limited.
‘Maybe it was the right thing in the wrong place. The church has been subsidising it over the years so we want to close then step back and think about how else we can provide the same sort of service but perhaps in a more 21st century sort of way. But we don’t know as yet what that will be,’ he added.
In addition to being a cafe, he said the place provided a welcoming front door to some of the other services offered by the Broadway Baptist Church it formed a part of.
‘We called it Church Through the Week because people could come in and find some books and a listening ear: if they had had a particular crisis, they could talk to someone. There were also mums’ groups, support groups and the drop-in for homeless men.’
Now the church wants to find different ways of using the space and other ways of delivering the same services, after its doors shut yesterday (Saturday).
‘It will be missed by a number of people,’ he said.