Pandemic results in opening of Potters Bar and Hatfield coffee shops

Choukri Laachir runs Caffé Rosso, which has branches at Hatfield and Potters Bar train stations.

Choukri Laachir runs Caffé Rosso, which has branches at Hatfield and Potters Bar train stations. - Credit: Spider Ltd

The pandemic had an unlikely benefit for one local entrepreneur - finally giving him the chance to run his own business in Hatfield and Potters Bar.

After working for different franchises and coffee chains, Choukri Laachiri launched Caffé Rosso, which has branches at both towns' train stations.

“I’ve worked in the hospitality industry all my life. I’ve worked in two Michelin star restaurants and also helped to launch the now infamous Hakkasan restaurant in Madrid, Miami and South Africa!”

Choukri, 50, is originally from Morocco but spent 35 years living in Spain – as well as stints in London and Shanghai. He moved over to the UK permanently nine years ago.

“The pandemic was extremely hard for hospitality. The coffee shop I was working in at the station was unable to continue operating, which was very sad but gave me an opportunity I hadn’t had before. I worked with the team at GTR, who were incredibly supportive of me taking over ownership of the spaces.

“Myself and my business partner opened Caffé Rosso in October 2021. At Potters Bar train station, we have a shop at the main entrance and a kiosk on platform 1. At Hatfield station, customers can find us on platform 1.

“The end of 2021 and start of 2022 were difficult. There weren’t many people travelling but in the last few months, we’ve really seen a difference. We rely heavily on commuters, with direct connections to Moorgate and King’s Cross, so it’s good to see people returning to the office.

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“In Potters Bar, there are big coffee chains near the station, so we’re in direct competition but we’re gradually seeing attracting more and more of these customers over to Caffé Rosso and I believe it’s because we pride ourselves on excellent service.

“It’s great being based in busy train stations because I get to meet different people every day. We also get friendly with regular travellers too, which is nice. We sell Italian delicacies and good-quality coffee that people enjoy.

“I’m very passionate about the business and want to open even more shops, but right now it’s too risky to expand so I am focusing on Potters Bar and Hatfield. Who knows what the future might bring!”