New coffee shop opens and retailers reopen doors in Banbury town centre after second lockdown

Most shops in the Banbury town centre have now reopened following the national lockdown.

By Matt Elofson
Friday, 4th December 2020, 9:06 pm

Finishing yet another lockdown represents a new beginning and fresh start for one local Banbury resident.

On Wednesday December 2 Laurence Hartwell opened the Ugly Mug coffee shop in Church Lane of the town centre.

He said: "I've always done upholstery. I've always been self-employed and the whole lockdown thing really got me thinking. So I just went for it. We spent about six weeks setting everything up. Now since Wednesday it's my full-time job."

Laurence Hartwell and his daughter, Mary, who opened the Ugly Mug coffee shop in the Banbury town centre

Laurence's daughter, Mary Hartwell, helps him run the coffee shop through an apprenticeship at the local college. She came up with the current seasonal special, a Terry's Orange hot chocolate.

The coffee shop will be offering food from next week, which include pasties, sausage rolls, croissants and other baked goods.

Laurence said: "We noticed the pasty shop at the bottom (of the High Street) is shut so we've decided to do pasties.

"There are so many coffee shops right now so you really got to something different."

Laurence Hartwell and his daughter, Mary, who run the Ugly Mug coffee shop in the Banbury town centre

Laurence has also applied for an alcohol licence, which they hope is approved before Christmas.

He added: "We want to make and offer a proper rum and risen, or an espresso martini or even a Baileys. It's just that little bit of extra warmth."

The Ugly Mug also hopes to offer customers live music when is currently prohibited due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Laurence said: "We're also trying to be as green as possible. The cups are compostable, and the straws are recycled."

The market place in Banbury town centre

The town centre also has another new business in the Italian Larder in the High Street, an Italian delicatessen and market.

Natalia Balaj, who runs the business with her husband, Vincenzo, said: "We only have very high quality authentic food.

"We do Italian food original from Italy, mostly from the south, which is where we come from."

The Italian Larder moved from an industrial estate in town to the town centre and opened last month.

Laurence Hartwell and his daughter, Mary, who run the Ugly Mug, coffee shop in Church Lane, which opened on Wednesday December 2.

They freshly slice their meat every day for the delicatessen, along with a large range of cheeses such as the specialty mozzarella called Burrata.

From next week the Italian Larder will offer freshly baked artisan bread. They also offer an Italian Christmas cake called Panettone and Pandoro.

She added: "We do a lot of organic food as well. We people who come Oxford for our organic oil. You can eat with bread. It's just beautiful."

People can order and have the food delivered their website using the following link:

The town centre also offers a variety of other independent businesses for people during the Christmas season.

If you want something really festive, but established, people can try the Banbury Sewing Centre, Kendals, Doodledash, and the Magical Story (in the Castle Quay Shopping Centre).

Jo Samways, a town host with Banbury Business Improvement District (BID), said: "Our town centre businesses need us now more than ever.

"If each one of us spends a small amount of money locally, together we make a big difference. Banbury has a lot to offer the festive shopper, and I for one will be buying all my Christmas presents from Banbury shops.

"Vouchers for experiences make a great way to support the health and beauty sector as well as our leisure industry like gyms, the arts and bowling.

"I also intend to give myself a break from cooking and support our pubs and restaurants in their time of need. If we want these businesses to still be in Banbury after the pandemic - we all need to put our money where our mouth is so to speak. And given the quality of our pubs and restaurants, this will be a pleasure - not a task.

"Take a peek at our winter guide ( ) to remind yourself of the lovely shops in Banbury.

"Pop in and see our winter light display projected onto the facade of Cornhill every night through the Christmas season - and why not treat your household to a meal or takeaway in one of our lovely town venues."