Save Karibuni petition to be presented to COPE board

A petition calling for  the Karibuni cafe to be saved will be presented to the board of COPE on Friday.

The petition to save the town centre cafe, which was run by social enterprise firm COPE and which closed last week, was delivered this week to the chariman of COPE Jimmy Smith.

It was organised by Lerwick community council member Damien Ristori, a former COPE employee of seven years’ standing, and was started shortly before Karibuni closed. The quickly-organised petition, which yesterday had 313 signatures, asks COPE to keep the cafe open.

Mr Ristori is dismayed that Karibuni, which had been open for 10 years and served around 100 people a day, had to close so soon. He is now hoping that a “private person” could take the cafe on, as COPE still owns the building. He also queried why it appeared that nobody involved in Living Lerwick, which is aiming to improve the town centre, could help.

Mr Smith said it was a “very impressive petition” to have been assembled in such a short time. He said the closure of Karibuni had been “fully discussed” between management and staff and a closing date agreed. The cafe was a “loss leader” for COPE, he said, and as an “unprofitable enterprise” was earmarked for closure. It could have stayed open until the end of the month but the decision had been made to close early, on 5th April, to avoid uncertainty for staff.

Mr Smith said discussions about the future of the building were ongoing.

He said: “We have had approaches for the use of the building from more than one person.”

General manager of COPE Ingrid Webb said that she had had no idea the petition was being organised. However she said she valued the support the enterprise was getting from the community, and said COPE was “working hard” with SIC to make sure “the changes go through as smoothly as possible.”

Ms Webb reiterated that Karibuni’s closure date had been decided after discussion with staff and participants: “We worked really closely with staff and people being supported by Karibuni to mutually agree a closure date.”

This had been brought forward in their “best interests”, she said, as the continual questioning from customers was becoming upsetting. Closure was done with “absolute agreement” of all concerned and all four participants had been found alternative work within COPE.

Ms Webb dismissed the possibility of Living Lerwick – of which she is a board member – being involved. She said that Living Lerwick gets a levy from businesses within the Business Improvement District in the town centre to improve the area by putting on events or making parking easier, but: “doesn’t have funds to assist ailing businesses to continue.”


Add Your Comment
  • Ali Inkster

    • April 11th, 2013 21:25

    Could the Karibuni not cater for the old folks at freefield it might just push it into profit or close enough to keep it open.

  • Damien Ristori

    • April 12th, 2013 13:15

    As mentioned to Rosalind Griffiths yesterday evening an extra petiton was handed to me yesterday afternoon from the Scalloway area. The total number of signed names now comes to 341 from the previous 313 count.

    The extra petition was also handed onto COPE Ltd chairman Jimmy Smith lastnight.

    Thanks again to all those who kindly signed the petition.

  • Tim Senften

    • April 14th, 2013 8:10

    It’s not only the scrumptious variety of wraps and quick lunches available nor, believably, the best Latté served north of Hadrian’s Wall that makes Karibuni so special. It’s the fact that, as a customer standing in front of a cosy counter waiting to be served and to pay for an order, that Karibuni becomes much much more! It is a wonderfully rare moment of interacting with a healthy Shetland community who proudly lifts one of its citizens forwards to, not only serve you, but to interact with you!

    All too commonly, councils rapidly and short-sightedly decide on budget cutbacks that center on three citizen groups; youth and education, pensioners and the less advantageous or special needs. All three groups, not having a strong forum of influence, are easily and with minimum resistance placed into a category of lower status within the community in comparison to working, taxpaying and eligible voters who can speak for themselves.

    The less advantageous don’t count! They are not to be heard! They are not to be seen!

    With this situation, the dark risk of a backwards community is advertised and that a community divides its citizens into different and unfair levels of status. How will tourists, visitors and potential immigrants or investors react to establishing themselves in such a community?

    So, let Karibuni live. No, let it flourish and become stronger! Show to the Shetland community and to outsiders that Shetland is determined that less advantageous citizens are welcomed, appreciated and taken seriously and that, as a healthy interacting community, Shetland is equally reliant and confident with all of her citizens.

  • John Anderson

    • April 14th, 2013 12:52

    I don’t know how often Tim Senften had a latte in Karibuni, but that was one thing they manifestly couldn’t make properly. I’m not saying it’s not a worthwhile enterprise, but the coffee was hopeless, and probably lessened their profitability.

  • Colin HUnter

    • April 15th, 2013 16:34

    I never buy coffee when I’m out because I find it all totally undrinkable, with Starbucks and Costa being the least palatable of all! However, Karibuni’s salads and wraps were to die for and were excellent value. I don’t know why they didn’t just raise the prices a bit. Everyone else seems to get away with it. Northlink being the biggest offender. I hear they now charge £1.90 for a cup of tea you have to make yourself! AND they get a massive subsidy from Government!

  • John Bush

    • April 16th, 2013 0:31

    Can I add my name to the petition?

  • Johan Adamson

    • April 16th, 2013 9:01

    Karibuni also do outside catering do they not? Could they do the catering for Mareel, which was always meant to have outside caterers and a better selection of real food. I would have thought it was an excellent fit for Karibuni to sell its coffee and sandwiches there (and subsidise the shop?).

  • Allen Fraser

    • April 16th, 2013 9:58

    Not only does there have to be “pain’, but there has to be seen to be “pain”. That’s why Kairbuni, COPE, Freefield, Public Toilets, etc. are being “cut”. These “cuts” will happen because those advocating them think that to lose these battles is to lose the war. Where “pain” isn’t being felt is from whence the cuts are being recommended.


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