Thursday, 16 July 2015
Coffee and Craic - what next?
It was with great sadness that I read on Facebook that Coffee and Craic, the Gaelic Cafe in Glasgow, has closed:
A short while ago I blogged about the place, saying how valuable and welcome it was to me as a Gaelic learner, and no doubt countless others too.
However, as we all know, love and support does not a business grow. Footfall and money is what is needed. It appears that the location of the cafe did not encourage enough footfall to make it commerically viable. Also, let's be honest, the Gaelic speaking and learning community isn't huge. It is also spread out across the world. It was a great place for this guy in Kent to meet his Gaelic-learning buddies from the USA, but that's not enough to keep a business running, sadly.
With no money to keep a team of staff on, poor Sarah ended up having to reduce the opening hours, and if a family crisis cropped up then the cafe had to close. Thus the ever-decreasing circle took effect until such a time that, for the moment at least, Coffee and Craic remains closed. I'm so sad about it.
I'm not privvy to Inside Information, but I would hope that lessons have been learned. According to the notice on Facebook, new City Centre premises are being sought to help increase the footfall, and therefore the sustainability, of Coffee and Craic. Its former location was handy for the Gaelic school, but it seemed that many folks, myself included, travelled there specially from outwith Glasgow, and the trek from the city centre to the West End was a bit of a drag.
My thoughts now turn to the new, city centre Coffee and Craic. I was prepared to travel from Kent on the train for a couple of days hanging out with the likes of 'Gàidhlig gun Bheurla' with Àdhamh, especially if I could catch a 'Togaibh Fonn' session as well. However, we all know that travel and accommodation are only really affordable if you pay in advance and book the non-refundable option. You're looking at at least £100 for a trip to Glasgow for many people, even if you book anti-social trains and stay at the Ibis Budget. However, that's more than worth it for sessions with the likes of Àdhamh. Glasgow is a LOT easier to reach than Sabhal Mòr Ostaig for the great majority of people. However, I didn't book these trips as it couldn't be guaranteed that the cafe would be open.
Coffee and Craic, for some of us, was not just a cafe. It was a destination in itself, the very reason I'd figure Glasgow into my trips to Scotland. For this reason alone, the new incarnation has simply got to be reliable and be open when advertised without short-notice closure. This is way too much to ask of one woman, and I hope the management have realised this.
In my ideal world, Coffee and Craic would also have rooms upstairs for out-of-town guests to sleep over, to save having to stay in a hotel. There is no facility (to my knowledge) for us learners to stay in a Gaelic environment other than a short course at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig or the occasional summer week on Uist. If the new Coffee and Craic is a reliable centre that hosts affordable weekends/midweek breaks where the likes of us learners can chill and socialise in a Gaelic-speaking environment, then I'd definitely help CrowdFund that!
Whatever happens, I wish the team well and offer my full support. I just don't want to lose this wonderful resource.