A cafe which has been part of community life for 35 years in Cardiff has closed permanently blaming coronavirus and an inability to guarantee social distancing.

The Olive Branch in Rhiwbina announced on Tuesday that it will not be opening its doors again after being closed since the start of lockdown.

Cafe manager Jackie Webb said: "With great sadness we announce that The Olive Branch on Heol Y Deri will not be opening its doors again. With the impact of the pandemic and inability to guarantee social distancing in an already tight financial situation the decision to permanently close was inevitable."

The cafe was popular with schoolchildren and was a focal point on the high street in Rhiwbina

Rhiwbina Baptist Church started The Olive Branch cafe and bookshop in 1984 and it quickly became a focal point in the village which launched a bid to become the first plastic-free village in Cardiff two years ago.

David Juliff, the pastor of Rhiwbina Baptist Church at the time of opening, said it was "a story of miracle from beginning to end" and the cafe was a way to expand "the vision of God's love".

One of the first trustees, David Haime, said: "It wasn't a business, it was a church outreach."

The idea came to the founders during one prayer meeting on Monday and by Friday the same week they had secured the shop on Heol Y Deri.

Volunteers came together to transform the former dress shop into a cafe and within a few weeks The Olive Branch was up and running. The first manager in charge was Ann Penrose who said she had "received a calling from God" to become the manager of the new coffee shop.

The shop front in 1984 while the former dress shop was transformed into a cafe
The cafe in the early days.

Mrs Penrose said: "It was a joy to work there. It was more than just a coffee shop. For all of us, it was a ministry."

But it was a far cry from plastic tablecloths and fairycakes that people might have expected - and over the years it became well known throughout Cardiff for excellent coffee and delicious cakes. It even featured in a double-page spread in the Guardian newspaper.

The Olive Branch was a frequent haunt for lunch while schoolchildren would stop by for milkshakes on the way home from school.

Mrs Webb added she and the staff and volunteers wanted to thank the hundreds of customers for all their love and support over the years. She added: "Since the Olive Branch first opened 35 years ago the staff and volunteers have enjoyed welcoming so many through our door.

"For now keep safe and may God bless you."