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Dave Waller, 47, who owns the Gravesend branch of Coffee Republic, believes Gravesend shoppers love their regular drink and the opening of a new Costa will not cause him problems, even though it is just a few doors away in New Road.
Costa opened this morning in the former Burton and Dorothy Perkins, which shared two floors of the building, creating eight jobs.
It was originally scheduled to open on Saturday, January 25, but the refit was not ready in time.
Mr Waller, of New Ash Green, said Gravesend was in “good nick” and he was optimistic about the town’s future.
He explained he was proud of the friendly relationship his staff had with their clientele and believed in the long run his customers would stay put.
He said: “Short term it will possibly affect me but to be honest we’ve been open four years and we have a very strong and loyal customer base. We run as a family enterprise.
“I think it’s going to be different but in the long term there is room for both of us.
"When I first heard it was opening it was a bit of a surprise, but it was almost inevitable because they’re going into every town.”
A spokesman for Costa said: “Mr Waller, who is a Coffee Republic franchisee, has been running his establishment in New Road for years and said that there is plenty of space for more restaurants and cafes in the town.
“I think ultimately there is room for them as well in the town. With all the development planned behind the St George’s Centre, Gravesend will flourish.”
Savvas Christdoulou, 61, owner and manager of Leonardo’s Sandwich Bar, in Windmill Street, said: “Why more restaurants? I don’t understand.
“We’re already struggling and there are more and more places opening up.
“We’ve all got to share the same customers but there is nothing we can do about it.
“I’m concerned to be honest. It’s not as good as before. When I started here there was only three or four of us on this road now there is seven.”
Debbie Hellier, 50, owner of Crumbs, in King Street, Gravesend, said: “I’m not really sure at the moment. We don’t really know if it will affect us not.
“We’re not concerned. I’ve been here for 18 years and cafes come and go. We’ve always had our loyal customers.”
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