Café shop front restored to former glory thanks to grant

Noel Cowan standing outside the newly restored cafe after heritage work was completed. Picture: JP
Noel Cowan standing outside the newly restored cafe after heritage work was completed. Picture: JP
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A MUCH-LOVED Stockbridge café has become the latest business to benefit from a scheme aimed at restoring the Capital’s shop fronts to their former glory.

Noel and Rebecca Cowan, owners of Maxi’s at 33 Raeburn Place, approached city heritage bosses for help after their café’s historic stain glass windows fell into disrepair.

The conservation scheme, set up and administered by Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH), provides grants to business owners looking to conserve historic buildings.

The project looks to reinstate traditional architectural features that may have been lost or neglected over the years.

Rebecca Cowan, owner of Maxi’s, now renamed Cowan and Sons, said: “The old shop front was in a very bad shape.

“Our windows, although they were beautiful, were crumbling.

“They were badly in disrepair and we didn’t really know what to do with them.”

The couple were left heartbroken when they were advised by glaziers to remove the period stain glass in favour of modern double glazing.

“The grant is so necessary. It is essential to keep the beautiful original features that we have in our city,” Rebecca added.

“It is amazing to have a company looking out for Edinburgh’s interests.

“It took a year from initial contact until the shop was finished. Without the grant, we would not have been able to restore the property.”

The neighbourhood café was the first coffee shop on Raeburn Place when it opened its doors in 1997 and has since become a Stockbridge institution.

During the recent renovations, the couple also discovered original tiling underneath old plasterwork.

Since completing the project, the couple said that the café has seen increased footfall from locals and tourists alike.

EWH spends over £100,000 a year supporting the shop front scheme, excluding money property owners themselves contribute to refurbishments.

In the last ten years, the project in its current form has helped to restore more than 50 shop fronts, the latest beneficiary being Maxi’s.

Stuart Buchanan, from the Edinburgh World Heritage Site, said: “Edinburgh is famous for its World Heritage Site and shopfronts play a very important role in the city’s unique historic character.

“Traditional features add interest and variety and can make a shop distinctive. These are an asset to a retail business and should be retained. A single high-quality shop front can make a significant improvement to the streetscape.”

EWH funding aims to help small businesses, community groups and charities throughout the Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage site to safeguard its historic architecture.