A POPULAR family-run cafe is closing its doors after 16 years due to the lack of tourists visiting the city this year.

Cafe Loco, on St Aldate's, has relied on tourists to provide 90 per cent of its business.

The dramatic fall in people visiting the city this year because of the pandemic, along with customers working from home and competition from the Westgate Centre, have led to a sharp reduction in trade.

Owner Graham Wellstead, 57, who lives in Abingdon, said: “Obviously 90 per cent of our business is tourists, of which currently there are none.

“That's on top of the fact the Westgate being built four years ago. That really alienated us because there are 28 food and drink outlets in the Westgate.

“It ended up cutting our supply off because if, for example, you live in Witney, Bicester, Banbury, Abingdon, Grove or Wantage, you drive to the Westgate, you park at the Westgate and you eat at the Westgate.

“That cut us off because we haven’t got the natural flow of people that we had, coupled with which they then changed the bus routes into Oxford, so that people were deposited at the Westgate.”

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The cafe which has been used to film ITV's Inspector Morse sequel Lewis, is also a favourite of Oxford's Harry Potter star Emma Watson. However, Mr Wellstead said it had become a victim of the pandemic.

He said: “The fall in tourists has had the biggest impact on the business for sure, and I don’t see that coming back until 2022.”

The owner also said people working from home, and not travelling into offices in the city had a severe impact.

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He added: “Working from home has been another factor that has changed.

“It’s worth noting the fact that Witney, Bicester, Banbury, Abingdon and Wantage, are all busy with people who have now been told to work from home.

“They are busy.

"Jericho is also busy because it’s a little community. Headington is also busy because it’s a little community. But I’m not in a community here.

"It’s not as vibrant as Abingdon and places like that.”

This is not the end of the road for Mr Wellstead and Cafe Loco, however, as there are plans to reopen the cafe on a different site in Oxfordshire in the future.

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He also runs a cafe inside the Crown Court, which will remain open. He will also continue to cater for judges at the court.

He said: “I have an additional café in the Crown Court, that will still be going and I’m looking for another site in Oxfordshire.

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"The reason I am leaving this site, though, is that I didn’t want to commit to a 10-year deal with my landlords and its become unviable now to operate this business in the current premises with no tourists.

“In the meantime I need to expand the court business and the court café, then look for my other site. So I’m going to be busy doing that for sure.”

The cafe closes its doors in St Aldate's on Sunday, November 8.