Landmark Coney Street building to be reborn as a café

The Burgins Perfumery shop on Coney Street. Photograph: YorkMix

A landmark building on Coney Street that has lain empty for more than 18 months is set to be brought back into use.

Burgins Perfumery, which was dubbed ‘Burgins’ Corner’ because of its position on the corner of the street with St Helen’s Square, is set to become a cafe.

The owner of Lucky Days – which already has three branches in the city centre – has applied for planning permission to convert the unit into an eatery and takeaway.

Under the plans, the venue would also have an outdoor seating area.

The application says:

  • The property, which has been empty in excess of 18 months, was previously known as the renowned and well respected perfumery Burgins, which regrettably closed like many others in the city centre due to the adverse effect of the surge in internet shopping.

It adds that Lucky Days intends to take on a 10 year lease for the property and the plans will create eight new jobs.

Takeaway plan

The closure of Burgins Perfumery after 137 years epitomised the city centre struggles
The company was established seven years ago and has branches on Parliament Street, Church Street and Low Petergate, employing more than 50 members of staff.

The documents say the new cafe would open from 8am until about 8pm, seven days a week, and the owners expect 80 per cent of their trade at the venue to be takeaway rather than eat-in.

The black security grills on the windows of the building will be removed and the basement, which the documents say is currently in a bad state, would be revamped to create a welcoming seating area for up to 26 customers.

Burgins Perfumery closed down in July 2017 after trading in York for 137 years.

At the time owner Hanus Wolf declared: “Coney Street isn’t working any more.”

The Grade II Listed building was one of almost a dozen retail premises lying empty in recent times in the prime shopping street.

Long history

The Burgins shop first opened as Mark F Burgin’s pharmacy in 1880 and it was taken over by the Wright family in 1934, with Jeremy Wright changing it into a perfumery in 1972.

The business was subsequently taken over by June Yeo and then Hanus Wolf in 2011.

Mr Wolf said major national competitor chains trading in Coney Street, the temporary closure of Lendal Bridge to traffic and the opening of Vangarde Shopping Park had all had devastating effects on businesses, especially small ones, like Burgins.

However, he said the the biggest challenge was digital: “Internet shopping has changed people’s habits. They’re no longer walking in to shop as an experience. It’s no longer families. It is now – click a button,” he said.