Station café facing closure by Overground operator

Elisandra Zanfra making coffee in Cafe Basmaccino. Pic: Anna Mellin

Elisandra Zanfra making coffee in Cafe Basmaccino. Pic: Anna Mellin

A café in Norwood Junction station, Croydon could be forced to close because the landlords, London Overground Rail Operations (LOROL), have refused to renew its existing lease.

Rachid Yassine, the owner of Café Basmaccino, faces an uncertain future since his previous lease “expired on Monday”.

“I just got these documents from the landlords. They are offering me a tenancy-at-will, which they can terminate at any time”, Yassine said. His previous lease with LOROL, which operates the Overground on behalf of TfL, was for a period of six years.

Yassine described the situation as “unfair, especially when I have been here for nine years. This is not right.

“I’ll try to get some legal advice first to see what I am signing for. I was hoping they would give me a lease, but obviously they are not”, he said.

LOROL were not immediately available for comment.

Yassine fears that LOROL wants to rent the space to a café chain instead of supporting a local business. He told Eastlondonlines that LOROL “doubled my rent” in 2011.

“This shows how eagerly they want me out”, he added.

Loyal customers have started a petition to “urge LOROL to renew Rachid’s lease at Café Basmaccino with less restrictive conditions”. 312 people have so far signed the petition.

According to Yassine, his customers are “angry and unhappy, as the café is a part of the local community.” He speculated that LOROL “came up with the tenancy-at-will agreement” in response to the public outcry.

“At the moment, they get a lot of pressure from the media and from my customers”, he said.

The situation has been ongoing since November, when Yassine contacted LOROL to begin the negotiation of a new lease.

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