Maxi's restored to former glory & reopens as Cowan & Sons

The ever popular Maxi's, now Cowan & Sons has become the latest business to benefit from a scheme aimed at restoring the Capital’s shop fronts to their former glory.

Cowan & Sons

Noel and Rebecca Cowan, owners of Maxi’s at 33 Raeburn Place, approached Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH) for help after their café’s historic stain glass windows fell into disrepair.  The conservation scheme, provides grants to business owners looking to conserve historic buildings, to reinstate traditional architectural features that may have been lost or neglected over time. The couple were left heartbroken when they were advised by glaziers to remove the period stain glass in favour of modern double glazing.

The neighbourhood café was the first coffee shop on Raeburn Place before chains such as Cafe Nero, Costa Coffee and Starbucks arrived, when it opened its doors in 1997 and has since become a Stockbridge institution.

The old shop front was in a very bad shape. Our windows, although they were beautiful, were crumbling and were badly in disrepair and we didn’t know what to do with them. The grant is vital to keep the beautiful original features that we have in our city. It is amazing to have a company looking out for Edinburgh’s interests. It took a year from initial contact until the shop was finished. Without the grant, we would not have been able to restore the property.
— Rebecca Cowan
Cowan & Sons

The neighbourhood café was the first coffee shop on Raeburn Place before chains such as Cafe Nero, Costa Coffee and Starbucks arrived, when it opened its doors in 1997 and has since become a Stockbridge institution.

During the recent renovations, Noel and Rebecca also discovered original tiling underneath old plasterwork.

Since completing the project, the couple said that the café has seen increased footfall from locals and tourists. 

EWH spends over £100,000 a year supporting the shop front scheme, excluding money property owners themselves contribute to refurbishments. In the last 10 years, the project in its current form has helped to restore more than 50 shop fronts, the latest beneficiary being Maxi’s.

Edinburgh is famous for its World Heritage Site and shopfronts play a very important role in the city’s unique historic character. Traditional features add interest and variety and can make a shop distinctive. These are an asset to a retail business and should be retained. A single high-quality shop front can make a significant improvement to the streetscape.
— Stuart Buchanan, Edinburgh World Heritage Site

EWH funding aims to help small businesses, community groups and charities throughout the Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage site to safeguard its historic architecture.