Express & Star

Britain's Got Talent star visits cafe on its final day as soaring energy bills force closure

A cafe owner has been forced to close her after her energy bills soared by more than 500 per cent.

Amanda Russell, second right, has owned Kaffeine for 10 years. On the cafe's last day, she was joined by Britain's Got Talent star and fan Eva Abley, who gave a speech. Staff in the photo are Jayne Russon, left, and Sharon Lock, right

Amanda Russell has owned Kaffeine in Penkridge's Market Street for 10 of the 26 years she has worked there, but says has been "left with no choice" but to shut her doors after the bills became unaffordable, shooting up from £400 to £2,500 a month.

The business' last day was Saturday, when Amanda promised breakfast sandwiches until 11am, followed by cakes, scones and drinks "until we drop".

The 52-year-old said: "I'm heartbroken, I really am. The customers are like family to me, as are the girls I've worked here with from the start.

"Seeing that price on the bill was horrendous, I was shocked. I still am shocked."

Kaffeine has been in Penkridge for nearly 30 years

Kaffeine has served villagers for 30 years, including Britain's Got Talent contestant Eva Abley since she was a child. Eva, who is from Cannock, has cerebral palsy and performed a stand-up comedy routine in the show's live finals last year.

"Eva's mum said to me that this cafe was somewhere that Eva felt accepted and welcomed," said Amanda. "A lot of the customers have written in our comments book that this is a safe space for them. It is such a shame that we have to close."

Kaffeine enjoyed a busy final day
It was an emotional final day at Kaffeine

Eva made a special appearance at Kaffeine on Satuday, which included a speech.

Amanda, who is from Penkridge, said: "I have no idea what I'm going to do next. I might take a few months off to recuperate from the stress. It's absolutely horrible."

Her customers are said to be 'devastated' by the news, and brought gifts and cards to the cafe.

Customers have said a fond farewell to the cafe that has been in Penkridge for 26 years

In a series of Facebook posts celebrating the business, one came from a former employee called Jade.

In it, she wrote: "To Mandie, or Auntie Mandie in my life. I just wanted to take the time, on behalf of everyone, to thank Mandie for all that she has done for the village and for Kaffeine.

"This post is especially for you to celebra

te your achievements over the years; the delicious food, the beautiful shop and proud community is a credit to you and all of your hard work. You turned your dream into reality and we are so proud of you for that!

Kaffeine had to close it doors due to rising energy costs

"We congratulate you on all that you have achieved and wish you the very best of luck in your future; I just know that it is so bright. I know that I have an army of people behind me when I say we love you so so much and we are here for you. Congratulations and well done on 10 years of Kaffeine and thank you for the memories and laughter."