Lightbox aims to shine again for its reopening on Bridge Street


Julie Horlock will be ready to welcome customers back from April 12.

The popular cafe has been closed since last year due to the pandemic, but like hundreds of thousands of cafes, restaurants, and pubs across the country the brews, baguettes and beers will be on the menu again from April 12.

The opening comprises one of four concept Covid-19-safe pods and outdoor seating areas will be opened between April and June in Cathedral Square, St John’s Square, Bridge Street and Westgate.

Matt said: "The last lockdown has been the hardest. For the first ones you could see an end to it, but then when we went into lockdown before Christmas we were on a real downer - that came and went and we didn't have anything to look forward to.

"So now we're coming to the end of it. I would liked to have been able to open indoors but obviously we can't for safety reasons, but we will be outdoors from Sunday so we'll see how it goes.

"Most of our business is not takeaway, but that wouldn't have worked for we've been closed completely. But with six to eight tables outdoors, and depending on the weather, we'll see how it goes."

Lightbox had only just moved into its new premises when the first lockdown occurred a year ago, from a smaller venue also on Bridge Street, meaning that many of the original plans for the cafe were stalled.

With social distancing among concerns it meant that usage of the lower floor was restricted, but now things can move ahead again - but the Festive period saw another challenge thrown at the duo.

Matt said: "There was a massive flood on the lower floor just after Christmas. I spoke to the insurance company and it seems like these things are much worse when you're not here. But there were no customers affected because we were closed already obviously.

"We are going to have a refresh down there and new events; we've got our first comedy night booked in for September; for an event like that you have to have capacity, so we're waiting until later in the year.

"We're still designing our outdoor space. We were trying to get something in place that would have looked good for the 12th and worked for us in the medium term. 

"But in the end we decided not to hurry it and plan for a month or two ahead, for something that will make our unit look good and fit in with the rest of the street; something that you might see in Paris. 

"So at the moment it's just an awning, but we will be much more in line with the Cafe Culture soon. It will be improved and that's great."

New menu options - including fish finger baguettes and more vegan selections - will be available for tomorrow; the reopening as a whole is being coordinated by the Peterborough Positive, a partnership comprising Peterborough City Council, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Opportunity Peterborough and large outlets like Queensgate Shopping Centre.

Eve added: “We’ve got our awning, outdoor furniture and new menu ready for April 12 and we will be installing a much wider awning and some really nice terrace furniture, to make it feel like you're in a café in France or Italy.

“The fees for the pavement licence being dropped has been fantastic as it allows us to operate without those additional costs.

“The council and Positive Peterborough have been fantastic and the grants that have been made available have been a real lifeline. From our perspective, all of the schemes that have been put in place to help us have been administered really well and have allowed us to survive this.”