A touch of Italy for town centre

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The owner of a new independent cafe and patisserie has put his faith in one of the quieter areas of Crawley town centre.

Alex Rustani, 35, of Southgate opened La Rusta in Broad Walk in April after giving up his job as head chef in London just before Christmas.

La Rusta owner Alex Rustani and Cllr Claire Denman, Crawley Borough Council cabinet member for planning and economic development

La Rusta owner Alex Rustani and Cllr Claire Denman, Crawley Borough Council cabinet member for planning and economic development

Trained in France and brought up Italy, Alex wanted to bring something different to the town.

He said: “I’ve lived here for 15 years, I worked in London and came into town on my days off.”

He said he saw chain coffee shops ‘everywhere’. “There are four of them in the space of 400 yards.”

He added: “Why did I choose this street? People say it’s risky, but it’s not.

“The strategy is people coming from the new hotel into town will pass here.

“I thought this area of town was not great and thought I can make it better.

“Other shops have said thank you and it’s great you’re here because it was boarded up and not very nice.

“It brings healthy competition. It makes the place nicer and it’s something different instead of brand, brand, brand.

“We ask people and they say they need something like this to relax. It’s clean, it’s nice and relaxed.”

All the cakes and bread are baked there and they make sandwiches to order.

Alex said: “We use good quality ingredients like Parma ham from Italy, bread from France.”

The cafe helped improve the area according to town centre manager Alfredo Mendes. He said: “There’s an application for new frontage on the cafe opposite and apart from the tattoo parlour we have full occupation here.”