News that Oxford’s beloved Jam Factory is closing its doors for good on September 16 is devastating news for its loyal customers, fans and the artistic community it supports.
And yet The Jam Factory has never been busier. It’s currently holding an art exhibition featuring 100 local artists, as customers eat lunch and breakfast, tourists chatter and workers tap away. It’s a creative hive of activity, as always.
“we are looking at other venues because otherwise mum will have nowhere to sell her cakes”
“It’s what we always dreamed of,” Andrew Norton said looking around him. “And we succeeded in creating a warm, welcoming and incredible arts centre, restaurant and bar.
In short for 17 years, The Jam Factory has provided a unique, independent and vibrant artistic hub for Oxford, serving great food and drink and providing a welcoming space for anyone wanting to chill, celebrate, get together, work or just hang out.
And now it’s over.
“losing The Jam Factory would be like losing a limb so we are looking for a new venue”
So why and what happened? “The numbers just didn’t add up. It’s a grade II historic Victorian listed building (where Frank Cooper Marmalade was once made) and needs a lot of upkeep. The costs just didn’t merit the length of the lease,” Andrew Norton said sadly.
“So there are no hard feelings but we are looking at other venues because otherwise mum will have nowhere to sell her cakes,” he smiles.
It was still a momentous decision for him and his sister Claire to make, (they run the business together). “We’ve had an incredible time here. It’s been amazing so we are truly heartbroken but we are going to go out on a high and want to encourage people to make sure they pop in in the next three weeks to share the stories, anecdotes, laughter and experiences that have shaped The Jam Factory over the past 16 years.”
As for the future, the duo are already looking for their next venue in which to replicate the same communal and artistic vibe.
“Otherwise losing The Jam Factory would be like losing a limb so we are looking for a new venue where we can support Oxford’s artistic community in a similar manner and allow then to grow and thrive,” Andy confirmed. “So there is hope.”
But back to 2006 when Andy and his friend Tom cobbled together £25,000 to open their own restaurant on the Hollybush Row site. “The coffee machine cost £4,500, and there were so many holes in the roof that when it rained we had to ask our customers to bring brollies,” Andy remembers, “but that was part of its charm.”
Evolving, metamorphosing and accommodating the community around it, The Jam Factory has long since become a pivotal part in the Oxford cultural and gastronomic scene, a finalist every year in the Ox In A Box Food Awards.
“We are honoured to have been the guardians of this incredible building for the past 17 years and delighted to have welcomed so many people here to enjoy it. As for our staff they are like family and work so hard to make visiting an enjoyable experience. We are so proud of what we’ve achieved here.