Outgoing firm in charge of £3m abbey café in Northampton failed on the 'local' brief...and charged too much

The Conservatory Cafe has been the source of mixed reviews since opening in April
The Conservatory Cafe has been the source of mixed reviews since opening in April

The trust in charge of Delapré Abbey parted ways with its café caterer because the national firm were not "really fulfilling the brief", a manager there has confirmed.

Earlier this week the Delapre Abbey Preservation Trust (DAPT) severed its £3 million contract with Amadeus, the Birmingham-based firm in charge of food and drink at venues such as the NEC and Cadbury World.

Tom Hewer.

Tom Hewer.

But the revamped café at the attraction, which opened to much fanfare in April, has not been the hit many would have hoped.

Reviews have been mixed and several customers have complained about the prices of food and drink.

But event manager at Delapre Abbey Amanda Nicols said the decision to end the contract was a "mutual agreement" between the trust and the company.

She said: "We wanted the produce to be local and more than that, we wanted everything to be local.

"We wanted the organisation to be local, the staff to be local. Bringing this back to Northampton is what the cafe is all about.

"They (Amadeus) weren't really fulfilling that brief."

The contract is set to be taken over by Northampton-based Tom Hewer Catering, the team behind the ‘Franks’ hamburger restaurants and Restaurant Hibiscus, which is the new fine dining venue at the Royal and Derngate.

The company use only local suppliers for food, beers, wines and spirits and also runs its own butcher's and bakery.

The trust has confirmed it will be reviewing pricing at the venue following "feedback received."

Website Trip Advisor has seen the Conservatory Cafe' reviewed several times since April, with many people highlighting steep prices as a reason not to return.

One reviewer said: "To pay almost £10 for a bowl of soup and a sandwich is not on. This beats city prices. Lovely-looking cafe but disappointed with costs."

Kevin Watson, managing director of Amadeus, said: “Amadeus secured the contract with Delapré Abbey last year and began providing catering services at the venue in April 2017. The contract included operating an on-site café and the provision of all event catering and hospitality needs at the venue.

“However, as we have not been able to achieve our expected sales volumes it is no longer commercially viable for us to continue to work in partnership with Delapré Abbey.

“This is not a decision that we have taken lightly and we will now begin to work with the Delapré Abbey team and the new provider to ensure that the transfer of work and employees to the new contractor is managed professionally and smoothly.”