Ritz Cafe to close? Shock as beautician plans go to council

  • The hugely popular Ritz Cafe could be set to close its doors

Could it be the end for the Ritz Cafe - one of Millport's best-known, and best loved businesses?

The Ritz could be set to close its doors after plans were submitted to North Ayrshire Council to convert the famous business on Stuart Street to a beauticians, and a flat.

The owners, Mr and Mrs Luigi Georgetti, of Netherkirkton Farm on Golf Road, have applied for the change the use to the business through agents Robertson Design of Langbank to convert the family-run cafe to a residential flat and beauticians.

You can find full details of the application here.


The Ritz has long been at the centre of Millport - and has a place in the heart of residents and visitors alike. What do you think of the possible closure? Post your comments here on s1millport.


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Edwin Deas says

Conversion of the Ritz Cafe to other purposes would not be a forward move for Millport and would signal the loss of a highly visible asset. Would be a much better idea if a buyer could be found to continue the tradition.

A sentimental view from afar

Edwin Deas California USA (but intending to be in the Ritz next month!)

Meg Lindsay says

Obviously we will all miss the Ritz, but Luigi has made every effort to find someone to take it over without success.  It is their business and their lives and they need to be able to take the decision that is best for them and their family.

June Allison says

Couldn't agree more Meg.

Moira Smith says

We all know that the Georgetti family have done everything they can to sell it as a going concern, and of course it's absolutely their right to apply for conversion.  It's just such a terrible shame that there is no-one to buy it and keep it as it is.  It's so much a part of Millport and all of our memories of the place.

From someone else who's a long way away (and wishes she could be there.....)

Sandra Goldie says

I will be very sad not to be able to visit the Ritz when on holiday in Millport, as will my grandchildre, but I thoroughly undwerstand the owners making this application. They have earned their retirement and can't be expected to carry on forever if a buyer for the cafe business just isn't coming forward. I'm sure everyone wishes things were different, but wish them a long and happy retirement.

Mary Carolyn Lawson says

Amen, Meg and June!

Craig Lind says

Its a shame that the Ritz will be changing to a beauticians. I do think that it would have been a more successful venture to give the current Ritz an up- to-date facelift. Do you think Millport is ready for a Beanscene?  Isnt there already a beauticians on the island anyway? C'est la vie!      Nicky

 

 

Sandy Morton says

I totally agree that Angela and Luigi should be able to do as they see fit with their property - I did the same with mine three years ago!  I am however concerned about the economic viability of Millport as a tourist destination if we run out of shops.  When I started to work from Mount Stuart Street there were 24 businesses to the east of the Garrison now there are 10 (both figures subject to argument).  If tourists have nowhere to spend their money will they continue to come and to extend the argument even further - does Millport/Cumbrae wish to remain as a premier tourist destination?

alex polland says

good luck to angela and luigi

Angela Giorgetti says

Thank you all for your previous comments.

We would like to assure everyone that the decision to convert the cafe was not taken lightly.  It has been clouded with sentiment because, as many of you know, the business has been in the family for over 100 years and been run by us for the last 25.  In order to semi-retire, we have advertised the cafe for sale over the past 5 years, both locally and nationally.  Although there has been much interest, and despite the price being reduced in line with the economic decline, no purchaser has been found.

We know that the cafe is an important part of the community and while attracting many holidaymakers, it also serves the locals well in the winter season.  We understand the nostalgia that many people have for 'The Ritz' and it's 1960's decor, however we often work 14 hour days, 7 days a week in the summer season and feel that this lifestyle would be best suited to someone with the energy we had 25 years ago !

Our proposal is to move Angela's beauty salon to one side of the cafe and continue with a 'scaled down Ritz' on the other side.  The smaller cafe will still be for sale and if no buyer is found for that, then we feel that we have no option but to convert it to living accommodation as per the planning application.

We hope this has helped to clarify the position we find ourselves in.

Luigi & Angela

Edwin Deas says

A very heartfelt and constructive message from Luigi and Angela. Perhaps the compromise proposition of scaling down the cafe to diversify into the beauty business is the best of all, incorporating the future into continuing to celebrate the past. I hope that can be achieved.

Whatever happens, the outpouring of comments and sentiments in this thread shows the respect for the family as well as the desire to support Millport. Can't ask for anymore than that!

Edwin Deas, California USA

SaveThe RitzCafe says

Email 'savetheritzcafe@btinternet.com' for some interesting news...It's worth a try.

Eleanor Newton says

I would be just as sad to see Angela's Spa closing, so to combine both is a great idea. Please try a smaller Ritz cafe for awhile to see how things go. Jimmy and I with you all the very best of luck and success in you new venture.xxx

Angela Gilmour says

Im saddened to hear of the impending closure/change of business of the Ritz.  I have really great memories of my summer holidays in Millport which always included several visits to the "Ritzie"....trying to write my football team's name in ketchup on a Ritz burger followed by a knickerboker glory (if I had enough pocketmoney!). Memories - all fond ones.  A hard decision for the owners to make but in the end, its their decision albeit one not taking lightly.  Shame. You dont find many places like the Ritz in this day and age!  A

mary wilson says

i not suprised it closing i was over on holiday and went to ritz for lunch i   refused to pay or eat a cheese tostie as they were charging me   2 20 for one slice of craft cheese two slice bread  the manager was very rude indeed  not a nice man at all

Jason Macphail says

This is a very very sad situation.  To many The Ritz Cafe along with Mapes are Millport.   Wind in the hair on the ferry. Bounce off the bus and head straight to The Ritz for coffee and a roll. Going to need that energy to spin around the island. Then back to The Ritz for a celebratory ice cream!   It's that simplicity that is Millport to so many.  Take The Ritz out of that equation and somehow it just doesn't hold the same appeal does it? I am confident that the destruction of The Ritz will be a very sad day for the Island. Because we are talking about the destruction of memories past, present and future. Millport and the notion of nostalgia go like hand in glove. And The Ritz is without question the heart beat of that nostalgia and her raspberry sauce the blood.   That longing to escape and have a good old-fashioned holiday is the appeal of Millport.

I'm sure the family have exhausted themselves looking for a new owner.  The question is have North Ayrshire Council and the tourist board done the same? The infrastructure of the island economy will be fractured leaving Mapes vulnerable and so on and so on... When will this folly end?  If this cafe is allowed to perish like so much of the unique culture of Millport past one really has to ask the following-  What does Millport have to offer the tourist looking to escape the brash trappings of the mainland? The answer is less and less.  The cafe will be memorialized with many photos in The Garrison and as each Summer passes fewer and fewer eyes will look on that display.  

This is an opportunity for North Ayrshire Council and the tourist board to stand up and be proud of Millport. This is a chance for the people of Millport to stand up proud and shout "Millport!"  How can that happen without a coffee and roll from The Ritz to fuel the fight?  The way forward is to look back and revitalise.

Sincerely sad,  A man in Glasgow...  Always hopeful a child of Crighton Street  

 

alex polland says

I wonder if it really was The Ritz that Mary Wilson was in - I have never ever known "the manager" of The Ritz to be anything but courteous, helpful and friendly.

Phil Dodd says

I agree with Jason Macphail. The Ritz and Mapes are two of the top symbols that make Millport. Over the years since my youth, I have seen the closure of many of the businesses that made Millport such a popular holiday resort. The Nixi cafe, the 3 Boat Hirers, the grocers shop which is now an amusement arcade, the fishmongers, the butchers, and the bakers to name just a few. I remember the Bakers had a bakery at the back baking fresh rolls every day. I used to go early in the morning and buy warm rolls straight out of the oven directly from the bakery door before the shop opened. They were the best.

I sympathise with the Georgetti family. Nobody can work forever. It is very unfortunate that they have not been able to find a buyer for the Ritz. Some of the girls in the crowd that I met up with on holiday each year in my youth were employed as summer waitresses in the Ritz. I do hope that it is not too late to save it and think that the Tourist board or local business people need to step in to stop the decline of the remaining icons of Millport.

June Allison says

Before we all become too maudlin can I please put in my tuppence worth.

Millport is not in Decline - as the festival last weekend proved.    It is sad to see old businesses close but many new ones have opened up - we have a Beauty Spa, a Laundry, Andreas, more cycle hirers, Linda Malcolms lovely shops, a solicitors and estate agent to name just some.

We have the beautiful Garrison with a super cafe in it, not to mention the new and absolutely superb medical facilities so please don't let us talk the island down.   It is looking wonderful!

When I first moved to the island, the boats came 3 times a week, not every half hour so life changes and goes on.   Then it was necessary for the island to be self-sufficient - now it is not.   Also, many visitors come here with their cars stacked to the roof with supplies - their privilege of course, but we can't keep wishing for the past I'm afraid.

A lot of the business owners are no longer in the first flush of youth and in this financial climate must do what is best for them and their own circumstances - but anyone who wants to buy the Ritz and keep it going I'm sure would be welcomed by everyone.

Margaret Ford says

"Millport is not in decline", says June.

How many empty shops are there? How many young people can make a living on the island?

As a regular visitor, I want to come to a vibrant holiday town! A town that provides jobs for the young, services to residents, and a wide range of shops and services to the life-blood of Millport: tourists.

June seems to think that the island doesn't need to be 'self-sufficient'. Maybe not, but it needs a lot more than it currently has.

June treated my questions on the matter of the chemist shop with such contempt that I swore I would not write to this site again, but when I saw her pontificate when another local business fails to be 'passed on' I couldn't stop myself.

Perhaps someone could answer me this: What chance has Millport when people like June chase away a business which wants to provide a service, and invest in the island?

But then, maybe June doesn't care about businesses on Millport. Maybe she wants a quiet village to retire to, an easy half-hour ferry to a Supermarket and petrol station - and to hell with anyone who wants to live and work on Millport.

But I'm only a holidaymaker. My opinion - apparently - doesn't count.

Well, if that's the case I'll go elsewhere. In fact, I have already decided that I will.

 

June Allison says

Oh dear Margaret - you never let a chance go by do you, but I'm not rising to the bait.   I hope you enjoy your new holiday destination as much as I love Millport then we'll all be happy.

AnnetteThomson says

As a 46 year old I have many memories of coming to Millport as a child and am proud to say my daughter and her family are now enjoying holidays on the isle of Cumbrae.  My husband and I are actually viewing a property tomorrow which we hope to utilise for holidays now but retire to in future years.

Arriving on the island is a bit like going through the gates of disneyland - it offers peace and tranquility and feels like a different world.   I certainly feel extremely safe to go cycling or walking - not something I can say about the mainland.

The Ritz will be very much missed but the world wide economy is in a state and obviously the right person has not viewed the cafe to realise it's potential.  I hope to visit the island once again this weekend (if I can find accommodation for 2 nights) to recharge my batteries in my 'happy place'.

Unfortunately we are not able to predict the future of the Ritz but we must all try to utilise the businesses on the island.

Annette Thomson

June Allison says

Thanks Annette - you've summed up my feelings exactly.

Shameless advertising now - if you want accommodation, ring Millport Holiday Apartments at 530094 - they are owned by CCDC - i.e. the community trust and have been re-furbished for this season.

Thanks again

June

Jason Macphail says

Reality Check June! Sail and Oar was for 1 weekend in 52... and who’s to say it will be held in Millport ever again? To imply that this somehow signifies a vibrant tourist destination is like holding  a paper tissue over ones head and claiming it to be an umbrella.  Don't get me wrong, last weekend was fantastic, but if we are going to have a serious conversation, let's have one on planet earth please. 

One only has to compare and contrast home film footage of over the last four decades to see just how less colourful and vibrant Millport has become. I did this today. As I was watching I kept saying to myself  "Where have all the people gone?"  What was once a bustling tourist attraction has become a retirement village for the over 60's. 

 

Maybe I'm wrong but from the outside it seems like Millport is now a community of mainly senior citizens based on decisions made by senior citizens for senior citizens. What consideration is being given to other age-groups living on the island? What of posterity?  As tourism is the island’s life-blood, I would like to ask June Allison what proposals she has for revitalising the town and to name ten things to do on the island that would attract visitors to it or fire a child's imagination?  I think she will be hard pressed to name even five!

 

Over the years, people have visited Millport for the magic and not the ordinary that June Allison boasts about. 

To my mind she is missing the point when she writes about the island’s new "Beauty Spa, laundry, solicitors and estate agent" somehow being a sign of growth.  Every town in the UK can boast these most mundane of amenities.  My point is that these are commonplace and far from being tourist attractions. They certainly are not for the young to get excited about.  I have a great affection for Millport, but when the last business standing is a laundry even I will not be going there to wash my socks.

 

What was once a thrilling playground for children has become a haven for the aged. That’s great for June Allison and other elderly people. However, what of the younger generations and Millport’s socio-economic survival?  Now more than ever Millport needs the magic of the Ritz Cafe.  

 

Over the years, I have seen the eyes of children simply light up at the sight of that crazy big pink stick of rock hanging from the ceiling. With the demise of  “The Ritz”  Millport will have lost an economic lifeline and a huge part of her uniqueness.  To many people the Ritz Cafe and Millport are synonymous.  It was the blueprint for Glasgow’s very popular and thriving West End “Rio Cafe”. I fear the loss of this last great icon as Phil Dodd correctly calls it, will signal not so much the beginning of  the end, but the end itself.  

 

June, I am not wishing for the past. What I and others are wishing is for the children of today and tomorrow to experience the colour, fun and sense of wonder that was Millport.  Millport was once a children’s paradise and I believe, can be again.  Yes, the elderly majority population must be considered, but I must ask the question,  “What of Millport’s future?    Do you think a Beauty Spa, laundry, solicitors and an estate agent are likely to attract tourists to the island?   If you love Millport as you say you do, what are you doing to ensure her social and economic survival? 

 

We are talking about the preservation of the unique.  The Ritz Cafe is unique.  Now is that not something worth fighting for?

 

Jason MacPhail

 

 

 

June Allison says

Right Jason let's have that reality check shall we.   I live here and have done for 40 years so I was a young woman when I moved here and I've brought up my family here.

I am part of the Board that worked to bring the Sail and Oar festival here and which is working on the Development Plan that we have for the island.   This same Board also helped deliver the best September weekend for years last year in and around the Garrison.

Reality check again - how do you suggest we stop a privately owned business being altered or disposed off?   Where do you suggest the money comes from?   Are you going to buy it or move down here permanently to assist the islanders in their quest for money to take it over?

No, of course not.   You'll sit on the outside and criticise us that do try to help the island.

Reality check again - this is not Blackpool.   Children used to explore the beaches, play on the rocks and enjoy the freedom that the island gives them - and they still do!   That's the true colour and magic of Millport.  

Another Reality check Jason - have you walked down most High Streets - closed and boarded up shops abound everywhere.   On that scale Millport is doing alright.

I don't want to get into an argument with you Jason but until you live here and truly understand the problems we have, you really have no right to criticise those of us who work to try to get things done here.

Yes it was one weekend - but it was something wasn't it?   We - the islanders - delivered it.  

IF we had huge sums of money we could do much more, but we do not - we struggle for every penny which we use for the island.

I took on the management of the Millport Holiday Apartments in an attempt to revitalise them and bring in revenue for the town, so please don't stand back Jason and deliver lectures to those of us who strive daily to help Millport - we are doing our best.   If you can do better, you know where we are!

mary wilson says

i do  hpoe someone buys this cafe even tho my experiance when last over was not good with the food this the heart of millport and do hpoe someone has the cash and the energy to  keep this cafe at the heart of millport it is a shame the island cannot buy this through a shared committee and run as a cummunity sorry about my spelling  not my best subject  good luck no matter what the out come  and thank you to everyone for being so friendly when we were over be back soon  and a big thank you to the staff at the harbour cafe the were very very nice  and the food was excellent

Stephen Dobbin says

Mary

I totally agree with you regarding running the Ritz as a community cafe, and I have in fact already spoken to people about this and they all agree that it is an excellent idea.  How we go about this is slightly more complicated, and I am not sure of the legalities, but let me explain my thinking.

If we could get a number of people (realistically at least 1000) to make a contribution to a fund/organisation then that same organisation could buy the cafe and run it as a community/trust cafe.  The daily operation of the business would pay for any Manager(s) and the remaining profits would go back into the organisation/trust fund.  The ideal organistion would be CCDC as this would be a good and easy way for them to generate funds, and it also means that the cafe should always be in safe hands.

The dozen or so people that I have spoken to would all be willing to make a contribution, and I dare say that if we spread the word far enough then people with an affection for the Ritz/Millport may consider putting some money in to help the cause.

 

Some people will argue that the island already has a community cafe in Garrison House, although I do not see why they both could not exist side by side as they do now.  In fact I feel that no other cafe or business would suffer under this idea, as they all co-exist at the moment.  This would obviously be the case if a private individual bought the cafe.

 

Any thoughts anybody?

Angela Giorgetti says

For your information................The Ritz Cafe will be featured on 'The Hour' show on Friday 27th Aug - STV at 5pm. Apparently viewers were asked to vote for their favourite cafe and many voted for 'The Ritz'. Thanks for that ! Mary Wilson - please take note !!!!!

Angela Giorgetti says

Re - posting above

Apparently not enough time on friday's programme, so the cafe item it's being held over.  No news yet as to when the rescheduled date is.

margaret templeman says

I voted for the Ritz to win!! The Ritz is best for cleanliness, friendly staff and has the Best Ice Cream anywhere.

Stephen's idea is great. The Ritz is the heart of the community. It's open all hours!!  It would be wonderful for it to survive, but I wonder if we would all be willing to put in the hours the Righetti's and Giorgetti's have for decades to keep the Ritz the special place it is.

Best of luck to Angela and Luigi

mary wilson says

Dear stephen  why not get some posters up for the country  weekend and let people know what could be possible if enough poeple pulled together it has been done before inother places put them in pubs in shops and in largs  make the ritz  people of millports cafe i only wish i could do more but if i win the lotto stephen i be over right away buy cafe  let me know how it goes  mary

Roy McKeag says

I regularly travel to the Scottish Islands. A few weeks ago I was on Muck which has a Community Cafe. This Cafe is a great success due to great home baking; fresh top quality meals,sandwiches and snacks (no fast food!); toilets, open air seating to enjoy the views on a good day; sale of local island beers; cafetiers of coffee; great prices; internet access for rainy days; sale of locally produced gifts inside the cafe; community notice board, leaflets, books etc etc. A very small island like Muck with only 30 inhabitants and a fraction of the visitors that Millport gets (one ferry per day) makes a profit and keeps four people employed full time (during the summer anyway) although the cafe is open throughout the year. The Cafes at the Garrison, Fintry Bay or the Dancing Midge are all closer to this model than the Ritz.

Customers go to the Ritz because of nostalgia not for the services it offers. The owners and staff are great but the Ritz has been caught in a time zone which isnt applicable to younger generations - formica has lost its appeal to many! To keep the 60's theme then do it properly with a 60's Juke Box, staff in 60's uniforms etc., sell t-shirts - make it an icon! But that costs money.

If I was a another local cafe owner I would not be at all happy about the 'Community' putting me out of business by investing in just one cafe and leaving the rest to go bust. The Ritz has had its day - let it go gracefully or let someone invest if they think they can make it pay but the fact that no-one is interested demonstrates that in its current state it has little commercial appeal - only nostalgic appeal.

Sandra Goldie says

My grandchildren love Millport just as it is. They are aged 12, 9 and 5 and love playing on the rocks, paddling, making sandcastles, going to the playpark and playing with total strangers, having fun with no trouble.

They are all for coming back next year, even the eldest. They don't seem to have a problem with Millport not having lots of modern facilities for children. Their only disappointment was finding out that the people who do the china painting were retiring so they wouldn't get to do that again next year and they want the Ritz to be there if at all possible.

Why would the other catering establishments have an objection to a community cafe when they have to compete with the Ritz just now anyway? Even those of us who love the Ritz, sometimes go elsewhere, just for a change or a different menu.

The idea of having the beauty parlour alongside a smaller Ritz would be better than no Ritz at all. I do hope it can be saved in some form.

carol gawthorne says

Regarding  the Ritz Cafe , maybe the owners of Nardini in largs would be interested in buying and revamping the cafe,millport will not be the same if this cafe goes .

ian cumming says

Was back in Millport last Sunday, Monday & Tuesday for a wee break with my partner and 4 year old Daughter. We enjoyed it thoroughly.

Spent most of my childhood late 60's, eary 70's holidaying in Millport as my Parents owned a wee Hoose in Ritchie Street. Had a few friends at that time including Andy Bryan from the Royal George, Duncan Fraser from the Chippy, Dougie Rankine and Sonny Boy McLaughlin .

Anyway, last week we had our breakfast for the 3 mornings in the wonderful Ritz Cafe and we were served by the wonderful Staff. It was great to recognise a few faces. I think It was Michael ( with the Tache ) who was working in the Cafe. I played football in the 70's with Raymond, his brother, many times at West Bay.

I was delighted to see 2 older ladies still there 40 years later, the Italian lady, sorry dunno the name and i think the other is Mrs Gledhill or Cledhill, my older brother David used to be pals with her 2 sons.

I was so happy to be back in the Ritz and Millport. So many happy memories came flooding back.

Hopefull the Cafe can be saved.

michael fowler says

i use to go to school with luigi in newcastle, his father had the best fish and chip shop in the whole of the north east, geordie hero.... 

Graeme Ross says

Can I just clarify something, if this 100 year old landmark that I have known all my life really was being sold in the past!!! As is mentioned by the owners this property has been on the market for a good number of years but my dad knew someone who was very interested in the business as a going concern sometime ago but for some reason or another was not given access to "the books" so could not make an informed judgement as to the business' viability on that basis. No explanation for this was given at the time but the owners lost a good chance of selling the business to an Italian who would have carried it on as a cafe. My dad's friend has many businesses of this type and would have made a good success of the Ritz under the new management. He thought then that the sellers didn't really want to sell it on the basis of sentimentality as he would have offered a good and fair price and that would have been understandable. However too late was the cry, as he went on to buy other similar businesses in Glasgow in which he had been successful!!! 

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