The owner of an Anfield business which sparked outrage after plans to rebrand it as “Cafe 96” has said she will change the name after a social media backlash.
Olivia Battle renamed the cafe in a move she believed would be seen as a “nice” gesture in tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster .
But she has now apologised after the name change sparked concerns – which she said were untrue – that she was using the memory of the Hillsborough victims to boost business.
Set to open when the new football season kicks off later this month, the cafe lies close to Liverpool FC ’s Anfield home.
With the opening date fast approaching signage bearing the new name was put up on the Oakfield Road premises.
Yet the rebrand prompted a backlash from some, who raised concerns the cafe was seeking to profit through its reference to the victims of the 1989 tragedy.
Speaking to the ECHO, Ms Battle today said she had never intended to cause offence and had only decided on the new name because she thought it would be seen as a nice gesture.
The 20-year-old, who is from Liverpool, also said she had received positive feedback from people in the area when she had asked about changing the cafe’s name.
She said: “I did not do it nastily, I thought I was doing a nice thing… I didn’t just do it, I asked lots of people and they said it was a really nice idea.
“I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. I asked people in the area as well, people who walked past. It was open before as a cafe called Soup and people said it [the name change] was a good idea.”
Pictures of the new signage were posted on social media, leading to concerns being raised about the Cafe 96 rebrand.
After being approached by people highlighting their concerns, Ms Battle said she understood their position, had taken the decision to change the name, and apologised for any offence caused.
She said: “I did apologise and I have said I am sorry, I didn’t realise it was going to offend anyone. I did it as a nice gesture. I wasn’t using the name to make money and I was going to set up a fund in the cafe for matchday donations for the 96.
“Clearly I offended some people, who I apologise to, and I’m going to change the name.”
While Ms Battle said she apologised to those who had been offended, she added she had been disappointed to have received threats over the issue, adding that was another reason for her decision to change the name.
She said: “My family live in Anfield and I thought I was doing a nice thing. I’m changing the name because I have upset people but another reason is I was getting threatened. [I would have listened] if someone had approached me in a nice way.”
The concerns over the new cafe name mirror similar issues raised in 2014 when the developers behind a revamp of Anfield pub The Cabbage Hall included a Hillsborough ‘96’ symbol on signage.
The new design featured Liverpool and Everton shirts forming the number 96 and at first glance appeared to read ‘Hotel 96’ above the words ‘The Cabbage Hall bar and restaurant’. The sign was removed after an outcry from Reds fans.