A FORMER cafe in the city centre which has been empty for two years will soon be turned into a noodle bar.

Heroes sandwich bar in Ship Street was popular with students and residents for years before it closed in 2017.

The team specialised in ciabatta rolls with a variety of fillings including coronation chicken.

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Since it closed its frontage has fallen into disrepair and residents have been asking when the unit, owned by the city council, will be brought back into use.


City councillor for culture and city centre Mary Clarkson, a former customer of Heroes, said earlier this month she did not want Ship Street, off Cornmarket Street, to become Oxford’s ‘forgotten street’.

Now the council has revealed that talks are under way to bring in a new operator to take over the unit and this time the theme will be noodles.

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Council spokesman Tom Jennings said: “The council can confirm discussions for a noodle bar to open in the (former Heroes) unit.”

Ship Street has looked run-down in places after Russell & Bromley shoe shop closed in 2017 and Heroes cafe shut the same year.


Jesus College, which has started a £36m redevelopment of Northgate House shops in Cornmarket, got permission to move Ladbrokes into the former shoe shop in St Michael’s Mansions in December.

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But the plan was opposed by Jesus College students and the Oxford Civic Society, which said the Central Conservation Area would have been harmed.

The News Cafe in Ship Street also closed in 2017 but it has been transformed into the popular No 1 Ship Street restaurant.

Also continuing to thrive is Matthew Clulee Hair Spa.

Mr Clulee said: “I think landlords are doing their best to find good tenants for empty premises.

“I think the council had a couple of potential tenants for Heroes before but it didn’t go through.


“There was also a possibility at one point that Russell and Bromley could have become an art gallery.”

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Council leaders say they are working to get empty units in the city centre filled as soon as possible by liaising with other major retail property owners to identify steps that can be taken to address the situation.

Last year the council established the Oxford City Centre Taskforce – which includes city centre businesses, local authorities and landlords – to work in partnership to develop the city centre and increase economic prosperity.

After the Westgate Centre opened in October 2017 the total number of high street shops rose from about 431 to 516.

With the additional 63 units in the Covered Market there are a total of 579 units, of which 72 are vacant, meaning there is a vacancy rate of 12.4 per cent, up from September’s figure of eight per cent.

A public meeting will be held tonight at Open House in Little Clarendon Street at 6.30pm to discuss the issue of empty units and how they could best be used