Burrow Cafe facing safety problems in Central LRT station

A coffee shop that opened to great fanfare in the Central LRT station last fall says it may have to close unless Edmonton Transit addresses safety concerns

Owner Nate Box is now closing at 11 a.m. to avoid problems

Owner Nate Box looked on as Mayor Don Iveson served coffee during Burrow Cafe's grand opening in October 2014. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC News)

A coffee shop that opened to great fanfare in the Central LRT station last fall says it may have to close unless Edmonton Transit addresses safety concerns.

Burrow Cafe was heralded as a benchmark in the development of downtown Edmonton as one of the first businesses to set up shop in an LRT station. Mayor Don Iveson served coffee when the shop had its grand opening in October.

Nine months later, owner Nate Box is fed up with the problems faced by his staff and worries about their safety.  

"There's a long, long list of incidents that we've run into down at that station," he said, citing property theft, vandalism, loitering and passers-by being confrontational.

Since most of the problems happen in the afternoon, Burrow will now only stay open from 7 until 11 in the morning.

Box says when his staff call Edmonton Transit security, peace officers don't always show up.

"That is something that ranges from yes to not at all," he said, adding that sometimes ETS security questions whether the incident is worth responding to.  

Chuck Van Deel Piepers, acting director for safety and security at Edmonton Transit,  acknowledges the response can vary.

"Certainly it's based on resources at the time, but you know what, we're willing and we want to make sure it's safe for our patrons and our businesses down in the pedways," he said.

Box has opened a number of coffee shops since he started Elm Cafe five years ago.

He is passionate about Burrow and says he doesn't want to shut it down.  But the city has to do its part, he says. He is meeting with city officials on Thursday to discuss the issue. 

"We've kind of put in everything that we can at this point without there being some reciprocation."

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