Coffee shop boss fights rail giant over threat to morning brews

by Nez Williams

For many rail commuters, an Americano from an independent coffee shop is a small release from stress and overcrowding.

Now, however, the future of one of the borough’s best-loved cafés is under threat.

The owner of Streatham station fixture Pause coffee is fighting after being told his lease would be terminated.

Kaz Odutayo has launched a campaign against Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which told him last August that his time was up.

Losing the shopwould be “devastating” for him and his staff, the local entrepreneur said.

Kaz has strongly denied GTR’s claim that he had sub-let his shop, against the terms of the lease.

He tried to initiate talks with GTR’s CEO Charles Horton but the rail boss handed in his notice last month following public anger over service cancellations and timetable changes.

A GTR spokesperson says: “It is with regret that we decided to ask Mr Odutayo to leave. We found he was sub-letting the property, in breach of his Tenancy at Will. The court ruled back in April that the tenant does not have a lease to the premises and has ruled that he vacate.”

Kaz now hopes the new head of GTR, Patrick Verwer, will tell his staff to negotiate with him. A petition in support of Pause Coffee has reached 1,400 names and rising.

Pause, which opens at 5am, has won further support from Streatham MP Chuka Umunna, celebrities such as Catherine Russell, Sarah Beeney and David Harewood, and Green councillor, Jonathan Bartley.

Kaz believes Thameslink’s apparent indifference is a consequence of gentrification. He hopes that with firm public backing, Pause can keep offering its service with a smile for a long time yet.

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