Most of a York city centre café would be converted into hotel rooms under a plan drawn up by the business to survive the cost of living crisis.
Plush on Stonegate, known for its beautiful, Instagram-friendly interiors and creative menu, is currently losing money, despite being a hugely popular hang-out.
A combination of Covid followed by rocketing bills means it isn’t viable as a multi-floor café any more, according to planning documents.
Plush currently has three distinct dining areas – the Neon Room, the Garden Room and the Bohemian Room.
But it wants to concentrate its café operation on the ground floor, and turn the first, second and third floors into five hotel bedrooms.
Plush plans to close the Bohemian Room and current Garden Room to the public, transforming them, the current staff room, kitchen, and attic storage space into the hotel accommodation.
The ground floor shop would remain, and the Neon Room would be redecorated to become the new Garden Room.
“This would decrease the current café capacity by two-thirds in terms of physical space, but less than 33% in terms of actual use by customers,” plans state.
By keeping the café on one floor rather than four, it would reduce the physical strain on staff, “while maintaining the majority of income from the café and retail aspects of the business.
“Importantly, however, the hotel rooms will bring in additional income, and one that does not require additional staffing, which is the business’ biggest monthly expenditure.”
Plush Café opened its doors at the end of October 2019. Owned by Jaydene Halliday, she and her sister Keegan and brother Kyle created the unique look.
But only a few months after it opened, the Covid-19 pandemic began.
“The hospitality industry was undoubtedly one of the hardest hit by prolonged periods of lockdown during the pandemic.
“While the end of restrictions in early 2022 saw the sector enjoy increased sales, the worsening cost-of-living crisis is now a serious threat to that growth,” planning documents state.
“Plush Café is currently in a situation where overheads and staff wages are far outweighing the income brought in by both the café and retail aspects of the business.
“Our challenge now is to find new and novel ways to ensure the future of the business.”
Described as a “boutique hotel offering”, the change of use “would fit comfortably within the existing business model, with themed rooms and access to the café for meals, as well as the fantastic city centre location all contributing to the attraction of the venue”.
The Stonegate building is Grade II listed and dates back to the 17th century. All changes would be done sensitively to respect the historic fabric, the application states.