In 1991 the New Forest Enterprise Centre opened its doors in Totton to provide office and workshop accommodation to small businesses. One of the first to be welcomed that year was the Big Blue Café, owned and run by John and Christine Cooper.
Still going today, and to celebrate their 25th anniversary, on Friday 19th August the Big Blue Café hosted a party at the NFEC for about 180 of their loyal customers. Fortunately the awful rain that day cleared just in time, and the event was a great success. Everyone enjoyed the hog roast organised by Christine, daughter Emma, and their dedicated team. They organised a quiz based on the last 25 years, and gave prizes for such achievements as ‘the customer with the most to say for himself’ and for ‘one good idea this year’.
Over the years the Centre has seen many businesses develop and grow, the café being a great example: the family’s hard work and commitment enabled them to develop a sister business – Wessex Cater Hire.
The Centre’s flexible short-notice licences were an innovation, attracting new and start-up businesses. It was the first purpose-built business centre of its kind in the area. Entrepreneurs can concentrate on their business whilst avoiding the distractions of managing premises. Many have found friendly support and encouragement within the community environment – often aided by the café’s renowned ‘full house’ breakfasts!