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Coffee bar

Author Message
Jack
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Posted on Tuesday, 25 January, 2005 - 03:40 pm:   

FTAO: Clare, thought I would post this again as my original message seems to have been lost amongst all the moaners and morons pretending to be Newman and Dave.

I read your comments with interest and was wondering how you are progressing with the coffee bar idea.
clare
Joined N/A
Posted on Tuesday, 25 January, 2005 - 04:55 pm:   

I'm interested in the old bank in forest hill and am trying to convince the property owner that turning it into flats will not be a good idea and perhaps they should let it to me!!! or sell it. I really like the idea of a coffee bar in Forest Hill, if I can't convince them then there are a couple of other shops that could work quite well. thanks for the interest Jack.
Hilltop General
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Posted on Tuesday, 25 January, 2005 - 08:16 pm:   

So saying Clare we do have an oversupply of retail floorspace in Forest Hill - just far too many units for the size of the place. It needs to be re-zoned as something else. Council's problem but the fact is that the bank is probably better turned into flats.

I would say again that there is a recently empty unit on the W side of Datmouth Road with an original Victorian shopfront in a decent looking building thay it would be great to see in the right sort of use.

It has big windows too - unlike the bank - which might be useful?

Choice of unit is pretty critical - the old Blue Mountain is still empty. Great place but really bad site...all that side needs knocking down.
Another John
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Posted on Tuesday, 25 January, 2005 - 09:59 pm:   

I think a decent coffee shop could be viable in Forest Hill and I hope that Clare manages to secure the right premises before Hilltop General has his way and turns all of the shops into flats.

Sorry to dwell on the off-topic part of this thread, but Forest Hill is supposedly due to benefit from inclusion on the Tube map and the influx of professional types that it may bring (for good or bad?.) These new folk, as well as us indigenous ones, will surely want to be able to access some basic amenities without having to travel to Crystal Palace or East Dulwich. There aren't any spare retail units in London Road for Clare's Coffee Bar and, whilst I accept that Dartmouth Road is kinda drab at present, I believe that there will be an organic evolution of the use and take-up of the premises which will suit the town's regeneration and the demands of the changing local population. I don't think it's a pipe-dream to imagine in a few years that Forest Hill could boast, and sustain, a greater number and variety of well-run small eateries, independent retailers and service providers - provided of course that the Council doesn't decide to go for this 'zoning' thing.

Good luck with it Clare.
danny
Joined N/A
Posted on Tuesday, 25 January, 2005 - 10:35 pm:   

get rid of that laundrette and mackays and fh would look nicer over-night! there's a lot of poop on the main stretch of fh and i dont see the investment from local biz or council to improve it.
Hilltop General
Joined N/A
Posted on Tuesday, 25 January, 2005 - 11:38 pm:   

I admire Another John's optimism and would love to see what he describes happen. It seems, though, that it has never been a wildly successful shopping area ("Forest Hill & Sydenham Past" - written by a right miserable b*gger. Urban design wise, it's all wrong, and suffers as a result. I suspect that what will actually happen is somewhere between out two outlooks, but something has to go - there is a semi-continuous shops all the way from Brockley Rise to Waldenshaw Road and half-way to Sydenham, and then it starts up again only a few hundred metres down, when what is required is a focussed concentrated town centre with a few outlying convenience stores, off-licenses, take-aways etc.

Never are we going to be able to fill all the old units unless we revert to the shopping patterns of when they were built - no supermarkets, all produce from specialists. This in turn presumes radical social changes back to the pattern of couples where one partner stays at home, or the couple has servants, or the shops adapt to the new pattern of time and sut during the day but open in the evenings and on Sunday.

What will actually happen will probably be somewhere between our two positions.

However I still worry about our A205 blight and bad layout, and the fact that even when the place was quite run down a few years ago in the bad old days of high interest rates, unemployment and inflation there was more going on and better shops, and yet in these most prosperous of times can't sustain many shops.
See for miles
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Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 12:33 am:   

Mackays and the launderette are providing useful services. Mackays do some really nice, affordable baby clothes so it's not fair to focus on them.
An area should cater for everyone and that means people on different incomes.
Steve
Joined N/A
Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 07:14 am:   

And the launderette can, with justification, claim to be the oldest surviving self-service launderette in London, if not the country. It opened for busines in December 1952.
Steve
Joined N/A
Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 08:37 am:   

I also find the comment about the author of Sydenham and Forest Hill Past both glib and offensive. The book is generally regarded, amongst those who understand local history and have read the work, to be amongst the best to have been produced in recent years.
Hilltop General
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Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 09:51 am:   

It is merely a statement of opinion. The book is very good at the earlier history of the area - well-researched and well-written - but it seems to grind to a halt in the 1950s-1960s and tails off quite strangely, as if he'd had to finish it in a hurry, or had got sick of writing it or something.

The tone in which it ends is almost morbidly pessimistic.

Perhaps that is less glib for you. You may still find it offensive but I think I have made a fairly objective assessment.

I would still recommend it to others, with the caveats above.
Hilltop General
Joined N/A
Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 09:52 am:   

..back to the coffee bar, can we make sure it does good cakes?
Adam
Joined N/A
Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 10:14 am:   

And not £3.20 for a few bits of fruit, called a 'fruit salad' by the larger coffee bar chains! Good luck with it Clare, mines a hot chocolate, UHT cream and marshmallows please!!
PVP
Joined N/A
Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 11:05 am:   

Coffee bar is very much needed, and the key is a good venue that is well placed. Blue Mountain was just on an awful site. The old bank has the benefit of outside space, which is lacking in any significant way in most drinky foody places.
BaggyDave
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Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 01:15 pm:   

Pedestrianise Dartmouth Road?? Well at least on a Saturday. Make it a nice place to shop. OK haven't thought through the traffic implications.

Two coffee bars/cafe type places already in the area. Don't any of you use Provender? OK so it's a bit mother earthy (suits us vegan cyclist eh TJ?) and not so far away the Hornimans Cafe.

How does East Dulwich manage to sustain it's trendy outlets - is there anything to learn. Cracked paving stones and a busy road yet new delis and bars a plenty (but shame that Gradce and Favour stopped doing food, for those of you who don't know including a Portuguese bakery)

Of course I could do with something similar on Wood Vale but perhaps you are tiring of my tirades by now.

Now a trendy cafe come bookshop come small concert venue with avant garde bands on (dream on) - that would be excellent. With all the excitement that this thread has generated how about visiting the Rockin in FH thread?
Hilltop General
Joined N/A
Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 02:41 pm:   

East Dulwich "works" because:

- more disposable income
- critical mass of appropriate shops
- whilst busy, the traffic is generally moving steadily rather than sitting and at a complicated junction which is difficult and dangerous to cross
- shops are laid out in a fairly sensible manner, ie a straight strip
- Southwark Council are better in this field
- shops back onto dense residential areas (cf FH - railway line, a big hill etc - it is very carved up)
- there are fewer alternative parades competing within a short distance
- they have not had Sainsbury blighting their high st for several years
BaggieDave
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Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 05:14 pm:   

Phew, a mine of information. Still wouldn't live there though, and there is definitely a right and wrong side of the tracks in Dulwich.
Steve in Honor Oak
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Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 05:48 pm:   

What does it take to reach critical mass in terms of the 'right' type of shops and cafes? Who were the pioneers in East Dulwich who were prepared to sit it out and wait for the customers to start coming? I remember the succesful East Dulwich cafe The Blue Mountain opening a branch in Forest Hill a few years ago - admittedly on a bend in the South Circular near the railway bridge was not the best of sites - but that didn't last long.
danny
Joined N/A
Posted on Wednesday, 26 January, 2005 - 07:56 pm:   

hilltop, you've described sydenham too. kind of explains why fh overlooked by investment and development etc...

note to developers - theres lots of opp. in fh, new bars and pubs that have opened have been successful. my guess is the time wasnt right before. maybe it would work now?
Brian
Joined N/A
Posted on Thursday, 27 January, 2005 - 08:20 am:   

The coffee bar seems to have captured much interest. I agree Provender very friendly but could do with one nearer the statio.
Hornimans cafe OK if weather good and you can relax outside. Not so good inside I think.
Jack
Joined N/A
Posted on Thursday, 27 January, 2005 - 10:26 am:   

Chances are that a coffee bar could work now, going on the bars/restuarants that have sprung up in the last couple of years. I hope it works out if you decide to go ahead, Clare, but I'm still undecided.

Would there be enough customers during week days? One of the major reasons that ventures have failed in the past is that FH is by and large a 'commuter town'. I for one moved here because it is only a short train ride to LB, when the trains actually turn up of course. A lot of people work in London and don't get back to FH until the early evening. I wouldn't go so far as to describe the area as a ghost town during week days, but you get my drift. A good example is the Hob - correct me if I'm wrong as I haven't been in there for a while, but during week days they don't even open until late afternoon.
megan
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Posted on Friday, 28 January, 2005 - 03:17 pm:   

To be honest I have been to the Toads Mouth which is by Brockley station, I was there today at around 11am I didn't think it would be busy but I was wrong there was a constant flow of people coming in some for takeaway coffee others for a bit too eat, I really do think somewhere like this is in Forest Hill will be a get benefit. I have had the pleasure of a days holiday today and have been into Forest Hill and it is busy, Dartmouth Arms was busy and so was the cafe near the pet shop. I would really love to see a coffee shop in Dartmouth Road.
Mrs H
Joined N/A
Posted on Friday, 28 January, 2005 - 06:23 pm:   

I think that in the original Sainsburys plans, a long, long time ago, there was space for a coffee shop next door - probably a cafenero/starbucks/costa. Could we all promise Clare that we would always use her coffee shop rather than the chain?? or might we be tempted away.

On another note there are lots of mummies around in fh during the day - horniman cafe and zucker are usually busy.
Kathy Cafe
Joined N/A
Posted on Sunday, 30 January, 2005 - 04:55 pm:   

I'm puzzled. I think of 'The Dartmouth Arms' as a cafe. I go in there most days for a latte and to read the papers. As I don't require anything more from a cafe than coffee it ticks all the boxes for me.

Are cakes and biscuits required before The Dartmouth Arms gets a full cafe certification from the good users on SE23.com?
Michelle
Joined N/A
Posted on Monday, 31 January, 2005 - 01:09 pm:   

Not just Dartmouth Arms but The Foresters and Question do serve good cappucinos and espressos.Why do we need a coffee bar?
Newman
Joined N/A
Posted on Monday, 31 January, 2005 - 01:34 pm:   

They are both pubs and the Dartmouth Arms is a gastro pub. A coffee bar would bring something new to the area and provide an option for those people who would rather not venture in to a pub for their coffee and carrot cake. I haven't been to FH on a weekday for quite a while, but was interested to hear megan's comments that it was busy last week. The area has certainly changed (for the better, I might add, before the 'muggers/drug dealers/beggars' crowd seize on this as a chance to reignite the 'let's all have a moan and wildly exaggerate the state of FH' thread) in recent years so perhaps there is now enough custom to sustain a coffee bar
pippa
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Posted on Monday, 31 January, 2005 - 06:11 pm:   

to be honest i would rather sit in a coffee bar than a regular pub, no offence but the pubs tend to be rather smokey, and as goes the Forresters it doesn't look very appealing from the outside.
Michael Richards
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Posted on Monday, 31 January, 2005 - 09:43 pm:   

At the Dartmouth Arms we have worked hard to dispel the smoky pub image and focus very much on coffee, pastries, cakes and light lunch during the day. Heavy drinkers are actively discouraged and consequently we don't sell much alcohol at all at lunchtime.

To be honest trade is thin on weekdays because most of our customers are commuters, but as we have to be there anyway we might as well be open. I think being a pub definitely affects peoples perception of what we offer and what looks inviting during the evening is a bit of a barrier during the day.

Smoking is not just an issue for pubs it will affect a cafe just as much.

Another problem is a lack of convenient free parking. Forest Hill centre isn't like East Dulwich, Honor Oak or Brockley and is quite a walk for many residents.

Nevertheless I do think, if done properly, a coffee bar could work, we might even open one ourselves!
Michelle
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Posted on Monday, 31 January, 2005 - 10:14 pm:   

Hi Pippa, you know the saying donít judge a book by its cover, I go to the foresters for the jazz on Saturdays and now and again for Sunday lunch and the pub is very nicely decorated. I do believe that like the Dartmouth Arms, The Foresters and the rest of the pubs in forest hill are trying to accommodate everybodyís taste.
danny
Joined N/A
Posted on Monday, 31 January, 2005 - 10:52 pm:   

totally agree michelle, the foresters isn't the prettiest from the outside but it is quite a treasure inside. much better than you might expect. i walk past it everyday and i can't think for the life of me why they decided on that kind of signage outside???

if the foresters owners read this - why does it look the way it does? the redev of that area would help if there was a nice looking boozer there.
Jack
Joined N/A
Posted on Tuesday, 01 February, 2005 - 09:26 am:   

Totally agree, pippa. One of the reasons for the rise and rise of the coffee bar is that it found a gap in the market, namely people who are not in to the pub scene. I know it's a hard concept to grasp, but the foresters and the other pubs are not everyone's cup of tea, or coffee. The Dartmouth Arms is great, but, as Michael acknowledges, it can only do so much in terms of catering for the coffee crowd.
pippa
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Posted on Tuesday, 01 February, 2005 - 11:15 am:   

Michael I have to disagree I find the Dartmouth Arms extremely smokey, and before everyone get up in arms I eat in the Dartmouth Arms very frequently but tend no to drink as I find it very smokey, its unfortunate that pubs are smokey places as a non smoker I really don't like being around the smoke of others. As goes Foresters I can't help by judge the pub from the outside, but I will be willing to try it now as you guys seem to recommend the place!
pippa
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Posted on Tuesday, 01 February, 2005 - 11:20 am:   

sorry michael for some reason i read your message wrong!!! bad day, i agree that a coffee bar could be smokey but i have to admit that I don't really notice it in Coffee Bay in Honor Oak and the Blue Moutain, actually they may be non smoking don't quote me on that!
Jack
Joined N/A
Posted on Tuesday, 01 February, 2005 - 04:14 pm:   

pippa, I would give the foresters a miss if I were you. Not that the place is terrible, it's just a typical smokey South London boozer. This is one of those cases where you should judge a book by its cover. It's a natural reaction anyhow to judge a pub/bar etc on its exterior - if the owners can't be bothered to make the effort, why should you?
AB 3
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Posted on Tuesday, 01 February, 2005 - 05:04 pm:   

The Foresters is really making an effort inside so I wouldn't let the outside put you off. The staff are very friendly and welcoming to new faces...and jazz nights are great.
PVP
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Posted on Tuesday, 01 February, 2005 - 05:18 pm:   

Forresters - the new landlord has made a huge difference from a couple of years ago. His problem though is that the pub owners will not give him a long enough lease to warrent making changes that will require a large capital expense. It is an ok place to go, it just has a lot more potential.

And I agree, if one considers what the dartmouth arms has done, the forresters can do a lot better (even though the cafe side is actually ok).
megan
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Posted on Tuesday, 01 February, 2005 - 06:23 pm:   

it seems that the forresters is up against the same problem as the Chandos in Honor Oak now thats a pub that really needs a refurb, but the owners won't extend the lease!! if only they would reconsider that would be a lovely pub otherwise.
Michael Richards
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Posted on Tuesday, 01 February, 2005 - 08:42 pm:   

Pippa - Well I did say that smoking is a difficult issue and we all have different tolerances. I don't smoke, but don't object to those who do. My local is the Chandos and although it may need some attention I like it in there. I'm also a fan of the Forresters because Richard the landlord and his wife are very good company yet I find both of these pubs far smokier than ours. Bar Equal is a good place after pub closing but that really does fog up on a weekend night.
pippa
Joined N/A
Posted on Tuesday, 01 February, 2005 - 09:47 pm:   

Michael lucky for you, you don't object however I have an illness that doesn't premit other peoples smoke around me, it makes my condition worse. I don't think non smokers should have to suffer because of the smokers perhaps more pubs will ban or at least have a non smoking area like you have in your restaurant!
cc
Joined N/A
Posted on Wednesday, 02 February, 2005 - 08:59 am:   

Back to the coffee shop, i think it would be great expecislly if you could get access to the upper floors which appear would allow for some of seating outside


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