Moonbow Jakes up for sale (again / still)

As spotted by Tyrwhitt Ali, Moonbow Jakes is on sale here for £50,000.

The cafe was due to be sold a while back. The owner also threatened to sell up if Portland bookmaker was allowed to open. It opens shortly.

We've put our fondness for Moonbow's on record before, so we won't bore you with it again.

74 comments:

BraxfieldPaul said...

That's an old advert. There is no mention of the seating area at the back of the property, and the licensing hours are out of date.

Last time I spoke to John he was sounding more likely to close it than sell it.

The Cat Man said...

do you think it is about time I re-iterated my point that the centre of economic gravity is moving to the station area?

The coffee in moonbrows was the worst in the area (it tasted like mud) and the over hanging electric cables running the length of the premise in my opinion contravened various health and safety practices.

Still, we have a nice cafe area in the broca market now too keep the caffine flowing..

Anonymous said...

I didn't think the Broca market cafe was open yet.

Anonymous said...

You'd need to explain how that theory stacks up against the sale of Dandelion Blue, catmung.

I seem to remember your original point was that Crofton Park was doomed because it wasn't on the ELL. Crofton Park parade has done considerably better than the bit near Brockley Station, since you made that prediction.

Anonymous said...

Is it struggling then? Always seems like there's people in there when I pass (and go in - the coffee tastes OK to me). Be a crying shame if it went.

Headhunter said...

Didn't the owners say they would shut Moonbow Jakes if Portland won its bid to open the betting shop? Seems they may potentially act on that...

max said...

...bet.

Lep Recorn said...

The betting shop is already open - doesn't seem to be doing much business though.

Headhunter said...

Well if Moonbow Jakes closes, they'll be able to knock through into their premises and create a betting supermarket

Anonymous said...

Someone should buy it up and rebrand it as Mungbow Jakes - fully organic produce.

Hugh said...

Moonbows was a dump.

Headhunter said...

"was"? It hasn't gone yet...

Paddyom said...

Gosh i hope we dont lose it, it used to be so involved in the B MAX and arranging nightly events.

Moira said...

Indeed, without Moonbow Jakes I doubt I would have ever got the B Max off the ground. When I first came up with the idea of a festival, John embraced it wholeheartedly (as he has done ever since apart from last year) and I think about 10 out of the 14 events of the first festival were held at Moonbows. He has been an asset to the community promoting the arts with music, dance, poetry and other events, and the outdoor theatre has been fantastic. (There's a comedy night next Tuesday.) I will sorely miss my weekend coffee, dancing to drum and bass, chewing the fat with him and the staff, and ending up there every night of the festival. Thanks John and the staff for making Brockley a better place to live.

Anonymous said...

Moira, PLEASE get back involved with the organising of the Max, the community needs you.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

It is true, John has been imparting the sad news to the regulars personally.

It will be sorely missed. A lot of friendships were made around those big tables. One of the few places in the area that did live entertainment.

Apparently there evenings were too quiet. Brockley is hunkering down to sit out the recession.

These are harrying times we live in,

Hugh said...

'When I first came up with the idea of a festival'

classic

Anonymous said...

so it was someone else who first came up with the idea? Hugh, I've noticed an increasing bitterness in your tone over the last year.

Have you developed a cocaine habit, is that what's turned you into an a**hole?

tyrwhitt ali said...

Ohhhh I've just logged on and discovered that I managed to inspire my first ever thread. I really shouldn't be excited about that.

Have to confess I've only ever been into Moonbows twice. Normally go to the Toad or Aquarium or if I'm venturing further to Jam Circus.

Hugh said...

Anon, what do you mean 'turned me into one'?

People here say I've changed. That's what I do.

TAmsin said...

Anonymous - I think it is your cup that is half empty. I see now that it is ambiguous, but I first read Hugh's comment as being appreciative rather than bitter.

4x4 said...

Moonbows will be closing/for sale because it just isn't making the money worth the effort.
In my opinion it could be a really good bar/coffee if the owner invested a bit more money in it.
The 'distressed' look with ripped seats, bad lighting, decor and junk hanging up around the place is so old hat.
Trying to be bohemian is all well and good but young professionals with spending power expect more for their money.
John should have taken over the premises next door and upped his game thus thwarting the bookies and expanding his business. There are harsh commercial realities here and the markey dictates. Mung bean cafe's usually have a relatively short shelf life.

Anonymous said...

Wow 4x4 that's a great post from you, great because I agree with it ! Moonbows needed to up its game, Jam Circus is the place to hang out now.

Hugh said...

Agreed. Dark tunnel cafes have their place, but that place is 1990s East Village where models and rock stars can go between shoots.

4x4 said...

It's a real shame that Moonbow's hasn't moved with the time and from what I can see, Jam Circus has. Being a single guy (why are you not surprised) I would love to find a bar where I can meet/harass women. I do want to shop/pull locally but if I have to go elsewhere I will.

Anonymous said...

Is Jam Circus full of single women, hungry for cock, then?

Anonymous said...

Why is he selling?
Do they not get enough business?
Brockley Jim

Headhunter said...

Must admit I agree. Much as I love Moonbows, it was starting to look a little too "distressed" for comfort

Paddyom said...

Agree entirely with 4x4s comments - this places needs a few cool places to go for food and drink and admire the opposite sex, Jam Circus is it at present and Moonbows should have tried to take that route. I was only ever in it during the BMAX when it was jammed. The rest of the year me and my friends get out of SE4 to socialize as apart from Moonbows the selection is embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

but there's such a sense of community!

Fi Fi Abroad said...

Hi. I agree essentially with 4x4.... I love Moonbow Jakes as a concept, and because it is about one of the only places I can get a decent coffee. I don't know who it was that said the coffee was mud - then go to Starbucks if you want weak crap, overcharging and no atmosphere, if you prefer to hang out with suits.

I still think there is a lot of potential for Moonbow Jakes...revamp the whole deal, bring in a decent food menu etc etc... It's important for our souls that we keep these places alive...

For those who thinks it's just about pulling chicks and going somewhere to be seen, then seriously, get a life..I dunno...go and hang out in some dogdy night club in the West End or Essex...After several bacardi breezers you probably won't notice their bad coffee.

Viva Moonbow Jakes

Anonymous said...

To point out, moonbows makes good coffee and anyone who thinks its a dump or makes bad coffee go back to your Starbucks / mcdonalds style overpriced milky coffee shakes......

Rob

Anonymous said...

Moonbows is much more than a local bar or coffee shop. It became a social focus for the area. A lot of this is due to the casual, chilled out atmosphere that it managed to create.

Here was a place to relax and chat with friends, read the papers, or do some work. It attracted a very diverse range of customers. The mothers and kids during the day, students, people like me who go stir crazy working from home. In the evening, it became quite a cool music bar. Yes, a bit East Village or Haight Ashbury shabby chic, so not an original idea, if you have been to these places, but that made it quite special in London. Its going will be a great loss to the area. Where else is there a place like it in this part of London?

Businesses like Moonbows gave the place some local life in an area denuded of decent shops and with few places to socialise.

I hope something else comes along that is rather like it, despite these rather inauspicious times.

Tressillian James said...

Moonbows was the first to invest in the area - I, for one, appreciate that - it led on to Toads and all the others. It;s great now that we have a choice of where to go , instead of nowhere to go

Tressilliana said...

I think Mr Lawrence was first, actually, as I remember the frustration of noticing a winebar opening in Crofton Park just after I had my first child and my opportunities to go out were drastically curtailed! That was '92.

I'm sorry John at Moonbow Jakes is feeling got at. However, I didn't see anything posted here that attacked him personally - just some fairly robust comments expressing weariness with the decor.

I hope somebody else takes it over and can make a go of it even in these straitened times. It's obviously got a faithful following in SE4.

Tressillian James said...

Ah yes - I wasn't thinking of Crofton Park.

Anonymous said...

Crofton Park is Brockley - don't let the station confuse you, it's a made up name :)

Anonymous said...

A bit like Ladywell presumably...

Anonymous said...

Precisely. One big happy family, nestled in SE4 (or thereabouts).

fabhat said...

Ladywell's name has a long history unlike Crofton Park - which was made up for the railway's convenience:

Ladywell, South London. In 1986, Robert Smith published The Well of Our Lady (The Ladywell Village Society, London, England, January 1986). In it, he shows how the sacred well was recorded as early in local records as early as 1472. Smith notes that there has been a Christian Church near the site for over a 1000 years, and that in the past, the well was dedicated to St.Mary, and was visited by pilgrims on there way to Canterbury. The dedication to St. Mary also fits in with the many other examples of Christianity taking over Pagan sites in this way. Sadly, the well is now covered by the road over the bridge by the entrance to Ladywell station.

from this website:

http://www.fantompowa.net/Flame/pagan_london.htm

patrick1971 said...

Does anyone know the actual history of the Crofton Park name? You see "made up for the convenience of the railway" but someone must have chosen it for some reason. Was "Crofton" the name of the head railwayman? Did he come from a village where Crofton Park was the local manor house?

JPM said...

Patrick

You may find some info in Records of Webb's Crofton Park Estate at Brockley, Kent [1857-1938] - ref. A80/4 (National Archives.)
Brockley, Kent became part of London. James Webb owned the estate until his death in 1938, and it was presumably in his family before then.

John Moonbow said...

Mr Lawrence’s did indeed open way before Moonbow Jakes arrived in Brockley (2002), and fine establishment it is. Last Friday afternoon, when I told Graham, the owner, of the Moonbow closure he was shocked and sad. We had a glass of fine wine and chewed the fat for 20 minutes. We have a large cross over client base and often see the same people on the same night as they move between us and I sell his excellent cider which he imports from France. Richard from Jam Circus has pointed out that there will be a massive gap now between the station and the Crofton Park strip. This will not make it any easier to draw out people to the Brockley Road. I will write about Tressilliana ‘got at point’ when I respond to Nick later in the week. This post is purely to make people aware that the businesses in the area interact and rely on each other much more than I believe people realise.

John

PS. Probably wrong, but I remember an historian in Catford mentioning to me that all the places in Lewisham, after a certain date, are named after the creeks, streams and rivers that flow under the borough. New thread maybe?

fabhat said...

JOhn at Moonbow - now you're on here talking to everyone perhaps you could let us know why Moonbow is closing? Is there any chance it might survive or be sold on as an existing business, or is closure certain now? I had many a happy coffee in there when househunting round Brockley and it's always been a good place to visit with friends.

Tanya Moonbow said...

I am amazed at the absolute tosh that i have just read throughout this thread. Fair enough, if certain people don't like something, and are given a place to moan about it then moan they will. But, to admit to wanting to "harrass women"?!!? These are exactly the type of people that we don't want in Moonbow Jakes or anywhere else for that matter!

Anonymous said...

Tanya, it's one poster (4x4) who's only doing it to wind people up. Wouldn't worry about it.

scd said...

Tanya, that wasn't a serious comment (not mine, by the way).

I like Moonbows but surely it's natural that not everyone likes the same sorts of places.

Jiggy said...

To the saddo who seemed to think that Moonbows should be some sort of Cappucino 'knocking shop' I say long may you remain single and sad.
Nothing wrong with meeting women in coffee shops or any where else for that matter, but if you really must 'harrass'something, try one of the double decker buses along the Brockley road and see how you get on.
I agree Moonbows could have done with a bit of a revamp and brightening up but credit where it's due...John has tried to be creative with the music/poetry/theatre etc and to be fair he was the only one locally doing it for ages.
Like him or loathe him, I for one would like to say well done mate for giving it a damn good go!
I will be sorry to see it go.

Transpontine said...

It would be sad if Moonbow does go, it definitely has a vibe that is different from other places locally - had some good nights there as well as many day time coffees. I've always thought the coffee was fine, and more to the point I remember before Moonbows when it was hard to get any proper coffee at all in Brockley. Moonbows had a similarly positive effect on New Cross when it was there - in fact, forget the Brockley haters, come back to SE14 John! (though actually many many people in Brockley will greatly miss Moonbows, if it really has to go).

Anonymous said...

AS A SMALL TRADER WHO HAS A BUSINESS IN BROCKLEY PEOPLE SEEM TO FORGET THAT IN TIMES LIKE NOW (CREDIT CRUNCH) WE MAY WANT TO INVEST IN OUR FAILING BUSINESS. BUT WITH OUT YOU COMMING OUT AND SPENDING, IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN..

max said...

I hope you don't me asking, do you have a market stall?

Anonymous said...

19.52 why do you want to know if i own a market stall, when you know full well that there are no markets in brockley

max said...

Apologies, it was a joke on fully capitalized text, I thought it was clearer.

But going to the point you make, which is a very serious one, it must be terrifying right now for all traders and it's not just people spending less, I know from friends retailers that with the pound in freefall the cost of supplies from abroad has become such that you can't then just transfer it to the client or you'd lose them.
But those hits are felt by everybody, people don't come out to spend because their bills have gone up, they have less disposable income, and if they feel that their job may soon go, as just about everybody should consider, then whatever money they have left, if any, are more likely to be saved rather than spent, as they could make the difference between having a roof over the head in between jobs or not having one.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I used to work for someone that typed like that.

Reminds me of the "save baby P" groups on facebook.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a shame when good honest businesses go down because of it.

However, I think it also sends out a clear message to any that have been a little too "artisan" with their pricing - you can't keep playing that card and expect your bluff not to be called.

damesouris said...

first timer here..slightly bemused at level of vitriol on this post but maybe it's normal.... I for one am v sad MJ's will close as it is a decent place to get a drink and meet with mates also Babysouris works there so will be unemployed as of new year,Se4 needs more places to hang out in and not fewer and certainly not more spread out over Se4

Anonymous said...

Rather than express sadness/regret/credit crunch misery/ - why don't we all get off our internet arses and go for a coffee at MJ's in its last week and say thanks for giving it a good shot? Brilliant staff. Great theatre venue and plenty of guts.

jon s said...

I can understand the frustration from many who post occassionally and less frequently now (including me) due to constant derailing of threads by trolls as well as small businesses frustrated by the cat calls from the cheap seats.

However, I will post here to offer some advice concerning SME strategy, in the hope it makes a difference to some local businesses. For the record I do this for a living.

The credit crunch is forcing all companies to reassess what they offer. Ignoring the over complicated models, the best place to look in offering what people what is Maslow's heirarchy of needs (very simple to google). Every recession buyer behavior moves down it and every boom or bubble buyer behavior moves up it.

There are a few simple activities all businesses can undertake to increase their cashflow during a recession.

1. Monitor how many of your ten most prominent products sell each trading period and respond to customer demand. e.g. more shelf space in the morning rush hour for brakfast items.
2. Bundle products together for a discount. e.g. coffee and a cereal bar in the morning. Make sure the total margin for selling the bundleds products is 10 - 15% greater than for selling the main line.
3. Create new substitute products for more expensive external activities people are avoiding. E.g. an artisan deli can have a recipe card and a bundle of ingredients to cook quality meals for 2 for £5 - £10, as a substitue for restaurant meals.

p.s. For all you obsessed your perceived wit and making money from "investing" and not making money from creating wealth, I have no sympathy when you "invest" in schmoos instead of widgets and have no interest in telling you how to determine the difference, which is act very simple and has been demonstrated by Warren Buffett for circa 60 years.

pps. Apologies to all the decent people who contribute to or read this for any rantlike overtones.

Anonymous said...

Jon S - I'm quite interested in your post but can't understand the last part - could you rephrase it please?

lb said...

Christ, yet again Jon S has managed to cut through several feet of wibbling with some sensible practical advice.

I'd also repeat the point I've made elsewhere that a coffee shop is never going to turn that much of a profit, no matter how many events it hosts. The margins just aren't big enough.

As for my own opinion of MJ, no idea whether it was good or not: the tables were so big there was never enough space for me to get a seat.

4x4 said...

My apologies to John who is basically a good honest business man having a go where others would fear to tread. It is indeed brave to open a business and try to buck the trend by offering something different. On reflection perhaps my comments on here were a little negative and I am aware of how difficult it is to make a small business work. Perhaps I should have written directly to John some time ago offering advice as far the decor etc went-not that I have the midas touch. I agree it is all too easy to have a go from the cheap seats and I apologise unreservedly. Without people willing to open small independent business' where would we?

Anonymous said...

Not sure the "cheap seats" reference was needed...

lb said...

How about "cat calls from West Brockley" then?

LB (sitting in the dress circle)

John Moonbow said...

Thank you 4x4. Honestly, no hard feelings on this side.

lb, See below

8
Whitbread Profit by Business Segment - Page 10

£m £m
£m 2007/08 2006/07 % change

Costa 22.4 18.5 21.10%
Coffee

Whitbread Annual Accounts 2007/08

http://www.whitbread.co.uk/investors/financial_results.cfm

lb said...

There's a world of difference, though, between a local coffee shop where people are (presumably) encouraged to linger over their drinks, and a city centre chain outlet that does a large proportion of take-away business and can pack 'em in with little thought to personal service?

That was part of my point - you don't just have to compete against the recessio...pardon me, 'credit crunch' and other economic factors, you're up against caffeine saturation at the hands of Costa, Nero, et al. It's always going to be a tough one to make this kind of small business sustainable - I've made this point previously in the context of suggesting that Brockley might not be able to support yet another small coffee outlet in the long term. If you've tried, then it's admirable, and frankly I liked the look of your outlet rather more than the ones up towards the station - but it's going to be a tough time for these types of business.

Anonymous said...

Sniff.... 4x4 is making me well up! If he was here I'd give him a big man hug.

Transpontine said...

Here's a little appreciation of Moonbow Jakes in its various incarnations.

4x4 said...

A big man hug would be really nice thanks.
I went to Moonbow Jakes the other night and actually pulled a girl who as it happened, put out on the first night-now that's service.
On the other hand I tried my luck in Jam Circus and got my face slapped my some bird in dungarees (must have been a lesbian). Now my luck has changed I will definitely be trying to get John to reconsider.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know of any place with a similar unpretentious and friendly atmosphere?

When it closes there will be a number of regulars looking for a place to hang out.

Anonymous said...

Brockley without Moonbows sucks right now :(
Jam Circus is just a meat market, the Toad can never get an order right, The Aquarium has more staff than customers and seems to play music from 1994.
I miss it, I miss it, I miss Moonbows.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this so didn't know where to post this but I've heard a rumour from a fairly reliable source that the Royal Albert is set to close - noooo! I can't wave off those fantastic roasts! Does anyone know any more info?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I'm not surprised.

Lovely pub, but always nearly empty when I go....

Tamsin said...

For those missing the poetry gigs in Moonbow Jakes there's a one off in the Telegraph Hill Festival - this Friday, 8.30 (bar open from 8pm) in Crossways Academy Sprules Road (SE4 2NL). Poetry and Music Gig arranged by David Bottomley (who was suffering Moonbow withdrawal symptoms). Register for Open Mic session by 8.30.

peasoup said...

Does anyone know the latest on Brockley Moonbows? There's a sign in the window that says that someone will takeover soon - has that always been there and I just missed it? Will it be a coffee shop? Are there any plans?!

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