This much-loved café in Robertson Street, Hastings is set to close on 28 February. During the past eight years, it has provided much needed employment opportunities for people on the autistic spectrum as well as a place to display their art.

The manager of the café, David Koller, says: ‘There are simply too many competitors fighting for the same market’. He pointed out that many other cafes had sprung up in Hastings since it opened in 2009.

Although part of the appeal of the café is its size, creating a glamour reminiscent of grander times, David said that this had been its Achilles heel. Without far more customers it is not possible to break even. Autism Sussex, the charity behind the project, may well have decided that it cannot continue to subsidise the café as it takes money from other key areas.

Everyone involved in the running of the café, including staff and volunteers, is understandably upset by the decision to close.

David explained that the silver lining is that there are plans to continue the project in another location. There is no guarantee that any new café will be located in Hastings, however. Autism Sussex, which recently merged with the charity Pepenbury, provides services throughout East and West Sussex, and its new location will no doubt be decided on the basis of what is best for its long-term prospects.

Whatever the outcome, Café des Arts will certainly be missed by all those who use it, as well as being a loss to Robertson Street as a whole.


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