Browns of Brockley blog

Browns of Brockley, the new deli on Coulgate Street, has launched a blog ahead of the shop's imminent opening.

Brockley Central has been resisting the temptation to pester Ross, the proprietor, about how he's getting on. The shop is gradually taking shape, with something new in the window every time we walk past and his twitter updates give plenty of clues as to the eventual menu, opening date and his stress levels.

His first entry is about Roundwood Orchard Pig Farm and as well as offering us a picture of his ridiculously cute dog, he's signed off with a message to us all:

"Just on a quick sidebar, thank you to anyone that has stopped by the shop and said nice things or even if you've just looked in the window and smiled. sorry it has taken so long but I wanted to create an exciting shop with exciting produce, unfortunately that all takes time."

"I probably won't update this until the shop opens as i'm preparing for a week of unadulterated stress, however I really am going to commit to posting once a week."

It's encouraging to see local businesses embracing the potential of the internet to engage with its customers and to see that Ross is so passionate about his work - let's hope both things pay off.

76 comments:

The Oracle said...

I always have concerns when I see a shop take shape in a slow piecemeal fashion. (That black paint job is awful, Ross! But why black and not brown?) Though I do wish you luck and prosperity it really is time to get that proverbial finger out.

Anonymous said...

Well perhaps he's on a budget, done the sums and decided that a delayed (with some DIY) opening without paying contractors is a better option.

I like the black.

The Oracle said...

'on a budget' - bodes well doesn't it?
Like I say, I wish 'em luck, but is has been my experience that a tosh job just aint going to do it these days. (I find the black depressing and a step back from the previous colour - but that's just my opinion.) Sustainable businesses are what's needed in Brockley. And yet how many new businesses have come and gone in the past four years? Brockley Mess has raised the bar.

Paddyom said...

I really like the black. It looks more like a nice Victorian shop front. Cant wait till it opens; what with the Talbot, the Brockley Mess and now this, things in SE4 seem to be on the up, wonder how long it will last :)

Anonymous said...

Oracle - Brockley Mess has also raised the decibels.

Maradoll said...

Okay, I'm no official oracle. But I predict that Browns is going to be a success.

There are loads of people in Brockley that shop locally and want a bit more selection.

Follow Browns on twitter you'll understand how much research and work he's putting into his business. It's not a slap dash job. I think he understands his market. Check it out: http://twitter.com/brownsofse4

Even before opening he's already been actively involved in engaging the community through social media. Which is kind of impressive. I wish more local shop/restaurant owners would do that...or at the very least have a website.

Tickleme, Longtime, just thai thai and smiles - I'm talking about you. If your menus were available online you might sell more take away. Just saying....

On the subject of paint colour I personally like the black. I think it's classy.

Brockley Nick said...

I am very glad he didn't paint it brown!

The black's classy and it looks as though there's going to be plenty of colour in the windows.

The Oracle said...

Anonymous, a response that made me chuckle - in agreement. The Mess does need that large table back that Moonbow John had. That would combat the problem. Again though, on the subject of Brown's, I do wish them all the best. I just feel there was little need to change a pleasant colour well done. Therfore, why the delay, sirah!

drakefell debaser said...

'on a budget' - bodes well doesn't it?

Why the inflammatory remarks?

You only have to look across the road at the station to see what can happen when you allow contractors to get involved.

Also, the country is in a recession, banks aren't handing out credit to businesses like they used to so I am sure it quite tough to get a business going in these conditions. Doing it on a budget is actually a good idea.

Being patient and less rude can only help.

The Oracle said...

Brockley Nick, you may think that black is a classy colour (and I have no argument with that) but you can't surely be suggesting that the paint job is the same! Look closer, dear boy!

The Oracle said...

And where is my original response to your post?

Brockley Nick said...

@Oracle - pardon? I haven't touched any of your posts.

Ross Brown said...

i totally appreciate the oracles comments about the paint work. the 'dandelion' blue was a lovely colour but i wanted to let people know that the shop had changed and i think without changing the colour drastically people would still associate me with dandelion blue.

obviously i know that the painting wasn't my finest hour, but with most things in the shop i wanted to do it myself. i stayed out all night painting til 4am. (and then hours more re touching up all the stuff i've missed!)
to me what's inside the shop is far more important than the outside and although it wasn't provoked by budget i would rather buy cooler shit for the shop, or buy more food for people to taste than pay someone to paint my shop.
but that's just my opinion. i can see why some people don't like the black but i'm hoping that it doesn't put anyone actually coming into the shop and enjoying what we have inside!

Anonymous said...

I think black is very appropriate for a shop front (every deli is now olive or duck egg blue or grey!). Having said that, I haven't seen the shop front. Good luck Browns.

Anonymous said...

I love the black - good luck Ross!

Steve said...

Great attitude. Best of luck Ross:)..

Brockley Kate said...

Have to admit I wasn't immediately impressed by the black, but I like the blackboard bits and can see that a good window display could make it look really nice. So I'm sitting on the fence!

Good luck by the way Ross. I definitely know someone who'll be in the market for your bacon, so that's one customer guaranteed!

Anonymous said...

All the best, Ross. Don't let the obligatory quota of carping on here get you down. The vast majority of people will be pleased to have a new option when trying to feed themselves using local shops.

The Oracle said...

Sorry about that, Nick. Thought you'd censored me because I didn't like Ross's paint job. (If you need a hand painting then just ask.)

The Oracle said...

'Inlammatory remark'? 'Less rude'? Surely I have a right to an opinion that counters the platitudes of a tree hugger. (Ross knows where I'm coming from and has met my criticism in a manner that makes me respond only with glad tidings. I will certainly frequent the shop, and spend and spend and spend.)

drakefell debaser said...

Oracle, who is the tree hugger in your argument and which platitudes are you countering by firstly slagging off a paint job and then making assumptions that the business is not sustainable?

Anonymous said...

As the Stones said,Paint It Black

Boxy said...

As difficult, irritating and as hurtful as honesty may be at times, I think we're the better for it.


If people don't like the way a shop is painted, better to mention that than to simply stay silent and or worse say "yeah it's great" and then don't bother to shop there.

I was reading this thread and thinking about Degustation and why I don't go in there. It struck me that I find something offputting about going in there. I don't like the way the shop is laid out. I don't like shops with floor to ceiling glass fronts! I feel like, if I go in there, I'd break stuff. It's totally weird and idiosyncratic to me (or so I believe) and it doesn't mean they must change things to suit me. But there might others like me.

The point of what I'm saying is, if we feel that we have to censor ourselves for fear of "carping" then it doesn't really help the shopkeeper. It deprives him or her of a potentially useful insight.

Maradoll said...

"That's a COSBYYYY SWEATAAH, a COSBBY SWEATAAH!" - Jack Black, High Fidelity

Boxy, I agree that indeed honesty is the best policy. But surely things like colour of a shop or the size of the windows aren't really the important factors that should keep you from shopping there? Shouldn't it be what's inside that counts?

Sorry, that was awful....

Shops are usually insured against breakages...most businesses are. If you do accidently break something you probably won't be the first person nor the last person to do so. Trust me, it won't even make headlines in the Mercury Newspaper; "local man breaks bottle in shop with large windows. Shops with small windows remain unscathed." ;)

I hope that someday you will go into Degustation they've got a selection of food that you won't find in major supermarkets - and when you buy from them you're supporting a local business owner - and local businesses support the community. Not to mention that the fellow who owns it is really nice and nice people deserve to be successful.

I get excited when someone wants to open a business in Brockley because to me it's like saying 'Hey, I want to invest in you'. Imagine turning around to the investor and saying 'I'm not taking the options you're giving me because you're wearing a Cosby Sweater'....

Personally I'm incredibly grateful for these people who have the guts to stake their livelihood on business ventures that benefit where I live. I wish we could stop getting so hung up on the small stuff!

Anonymous said...

People will and should post what they like as long as it's not abusive or libellous.

Anonymous said...

I love Coby Sweaters xx

Anonymous said...

The small stuff is about the big stuff. That's why so many business have failed (despite the recession). I certainly dont want to see local entrepeneurs skimp on the small things if improving them will better their business, as I believe they will.

Anonymous said...

The black isn't too bad but those gold things are naff.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
laluna said...

Interesting all the debate on the paintwork. As a colour psychologist I always thought blue was a mistake (we are primaevally programmed to avoid blue when it comes to food). Black is not much better on this front as it is a threatening colour (reducing footfall so only successful for v select outlets who want to keep the riff-raff out).
For info in case you ever reconsider, orange stimulates gastric juice production and therefore appetite...

Anonymous said...

"As a colour psychologist..." I'm saying nuffink.

graeme said...

Considering the themes in Bertolucci's film "laluna", I'd have thought your psychology flavour-of-choice would be classically Freudian ;-)

Paddyom said...

Has this place opened yet anyone know? The lights were on yesterday evening and it looked open... Ross?

Monkeyboy said...

Bought some bacon and sausages ready for my traditional Sunday papers and fry up session.

Streaky bacon, WITH PROPER FAT, nice and thick cut. I usually prefer smoked but hoping for the best. Also got some Cumberland sausages. Ross wants feedback from me, he can obviously tell I'm no stranger to a full English.

Also spotted a big leg of prosciutto ham...Mmmmmmm

The layout is slightly better than the old one. Still stocking up I reckon but we'll see.

Anonymous said...

How much were the bangers, Monkeybot?

Anonymous said...

..boy - sorry.

Anonymous said...

..boy - sorry.

Tamsin said...

I rather like Monkeybot - should he change his little picture?

fabhat said...

I popped in to Browns today - good layout with exceedingly helpful and friendly people staffing it. Looking forward to using my purchases over the weekend.

Anonymous said...

I think they should have a sign. The shop looks unfinished.

Anonymous said...

Popped in today, personally I don't like the layout, doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a coffee shop or a deli and I don't think those premises ar big enough for both. It was difficult to get around the big table with a buggy, wasn't clear what was actually for sale and seemed like a pretty limited selection (although I know it is early days). Also felt there was an odd unwelcoming atmosphere for shopping with the people sitting at the table in the centre. That said the staff member I dealt with was pleasant and helpful.

Brockley Nick said...

It's not formally opened yet as he's still sourcing stock, etc.

JAMES said...

Have to say that the coffee at Browns is such a delight, delicious caramel espresso and just the right temperature for the milk....a great treat to start my day :-)

Come on Browns... said...

Afraid I agree with "Anon Oct 23rd" above. I popped in and didnt really know whether it was a coffee shop or deli and also there was hardly anything on the shelves. Most of what i saw looked very familiar from the Dandelion Blue days so am sure they must be reselling some of that stock. Didnt see much else if i am honest, it wasnt great. I think its a bad idea to open in an unfinished state. Really want this place to succeed but think it might need to raise its game or risk losing potential customers.

fabhat said...

come on browns - what a shame you find it disappointing, my experience has been totally different from yours. Yes the shelves aren't groaning with products, but when i asked if they had any decaf coffee they said no - but ordered some for me and I picked it up the next day! Since then I've stoppped by for bagels, fresh chillis, cream and more coffee...If there is stuff you want them to stock - it's worth asking as they might be able to get it in for you.
BTW: I am not connected in any way to Browns - except as a happy customer...

angelofthewest said...

BACK UP ---- bagels? real ones? decent, fresh, good bagels? Where do they come from??

fabhat said...

angelofthewest - oh yes - bagels from brick lane...apparently the plan is to make their own eventually, but the brick lanes ones are more than good as a stopgap!

Anonymous said...

I have tried the coffee a couple of times and it is the best around here by far.

I have sampled the produce and was impressed. They have a nice line in ready meals that look healthier and more economical than M&S. Their pork sausages went down a treat, very tasty.

This is a laid back place where you can get a good coffee and a bowl of museli for breakfast.

The produce is sourced close by from small farms and independent suppliers. You can taste the difference, the quality seems very good.

It is not totally stacked up like most delis. It is a bit snug, but the long table makes for a friendly atmosphere.

Quite a pleasant alternative.

Viz said...

Ooh I simply must pop to Browns to eat a bowl of F***ING MUSELI [sic]. Jeez. Where do you lot come from?

PS Do they do Koshi Golean?

Anonymous said...

....and where do you come from?

If you are happy eating reheated factory food in Wetherspoons, dodgy chicken bits or iffy kebabs, then best of luck.

But don't you get all snippy with others who are bit more particular about what they eat.

Brockley has just about all sections of society living hereabouts. Sadly you are just going to have to get used to that.

Viz said...

You've got me to a tee. How did you do that?

Putting the conservation back into area said...

I like Browns - I like the bagels a lot, I like the pleasent staff, I like the coffee, and I like the produce I have bought. I hope Browns' prospers.

However, I can't help agreeing about the table with the coffee drinkers/friends of the owner sitting around. It limits space and also is off putting for me to shop. Feels like I am intruding. I also think that the stock is limited at the moment. There. I said it.

I also agree with Boxy about Degustation - although I shop there frequently as there are lots of things I want to buy from there - I always feel as if I am going to break something. Something to do with the floor to ceiling windows.

Steve said...

"Ooh I simply must pop to Browns to eat a bowl of F***ING MUSELI [sic]. Jeez. Where do you lot come from?"

haha:)))...

Tressillian James said...

Whats the difference between going into Browns for museli or a local cafe for scrambled eggs and toast or a bacon sandwich, Viz?

Viz said...

Cooking. That's what.

Anonymous said...

slappiong some beans in the microwave or doing some toast is hardly 'cooking'. C'mon Viz - you were on a classit rant weren't you?

Headhunter said...

I don't think I would go to a cafe or somewhere like Browns for a bowl of muesli but I should think that it takes more skill to mix a really good muesli than stick some eggs and bacon on the fryer, so I can see why people might pay to eat muesli in a cafe.

Anonymous said...

How amuesling..

Ross said...

thanks for the nice comments. and thanks for voicing opinions on stuff that isn't so great at the moment.
i'll try and address some of the other issues another time but i'm sorry that the muesli offends.
luckily you can get a fry up on the brockley road OR the brockley cross, you can get porridge literally next door, you can get a huge range of breakfasts from the brockley mess - i personally don't get the issue? its just an easy thing for people to grab if they're going to the station. i cannot cook in the shop.

bagels - it's only a weekend thing. i pick them up myself saturday and sunday mornings.

unstocked shelves - just a question of logistics and me being better organised. i pick up a lot of produce myself usually directly from the farm. this, coupled with the fact that it's a relatively new shop and people buying sporadically makes it really hard to keep the shelves stocked properly. i will get there eventually. i don't like looking at bare shelve more than anyone else but because of the way i have chosen to do things it's not just as easy as picking up the phone and ordering another delivery. i'm not complaining by the way, just explaining.

erm, people sitting round computers are usually the girls upstairs who i let abuse my internet because i'm a lovely neighbour and because they've not sorted out theirs. completely understand if people find it off putting - will find some solution.

there's some stuff covered. will come back to the rest.

Tressillian James said...

Ross - you didn't have to comment at all - but really appreciate that you did.

Anonymous said...

Interesting about the psychology of shopping. Through work I recently met the owner of a well known chain of highstreet shops ( a retail Magnate none the less) who told me a story about how he was put off shopping for shirts recently because the staff made themselves sufficiently unapproachable and he wasn't particularly bothered whether he bought in that store or not. Thus he left without purchasing. Had the staff been a little more 'open' they may have made themselves some money. The chap is a multi-millionaire yet he was put off. He commented that small details like that are often the difference between a busy day and a slow day.

Anonymous said...

Actually TJ, he did need to comment. He has opened a shop and people are being negative about it. He needs to address these points, if he wants to be successful.

Ross, one thing I would add - on your blog you are quite negative about customers. I'd change that view sharpish if I were you. You want customers. Be nice to them/us.

I haven't come in becuase of the attitude for starters though given that you seem to be learning more about service I will.

graeme said...

I wonder if it might be an idea to post up some of the stuff you might be looking at getting in. Stock, in other words. I know we can just pop in but some of us try to avoid railways and stations as much as poss, so would effectively have to make a special trip. Besides, I like perusing on-line and tend to shop with intent. Not much of an in-store browser, me.

To the above anonymous. I think shop-staff face a problem of goldilocks proportions when dealing with punters; some like attention, and others like to be left alone. It's difficult to get it just right.

fabhat said...

Graeme, you can follow browns of brockley on twitter...and he often lists what's in the shop, or what he's on his way to pick up for later in the day.

Viz said...

In a spirit of rapprochement, I'll deconstruct. This was just a bit of a cheeky (think viz comic and HIGNFY's Paul Merton, Ian Hislop tongue-in-cheek ding-dongs), incredulous reaction to the idea that some people eat breakfast cereals in a cafe. To me they're a fix of carbs that you tip out of a container into a bowl, and chug down before you hit the road, because toast,eggs and the rest is an arse early morning.

I make my own muesli. It takes me ten minutes to smash nuts, chop berries and fruits, and mix everything with barley,rye,oats and seeds, and stick in a tupperware box. Usually enough for 20 or more servings. It's not bleedin' rocket science. And more luxurious/cheaper/faster than I've had out. My version truly is the Steve Austin of muesli.

If anything, I find it hard to accept that many choose or have no inclination to make things for themselves, or aren't interested in learning how. That's my real underlying 'issue'. But on reflection, that's more down to characterological differences. Horses for courses and all that.

It would be very easy to say 'Oh get over yourselves offendeds of Brockley', but I'll desist.

Thanks Steve. At least someone has, what I call, a sense of bloody humour.

graeme said...

thanks fabhat. Will take a look.

Monkeyboy said...

HH, you really should learn to love animal fats. Eggs and bacon (once a week, don't go nuts - organic or otherwise)make you happy FACT!

Browns... got any smoked streaky in?

Hugh said...

I like seeing entreprenuers succeed but why in this country does everyone big up very ordinary food in cafes and restaurants? I don't believe anyone here thinks for a moment the food at Brown's is anything near as good as a full English they could cook at home for half the price.

Beer Can said...

Browns doesn't offer cooked food. It sells the ingredients for the home cooked breakfast you refer to.

That was the case last week anyway.

Anonymous said...

Sausages!

They sell Roundwood Orchard Organic Pork Sausages which are delish.

A nice change from the worthy vegetarian malarky that seems to sprout from so many new enterpries.

I would like to see further quality ingredients for the great English breakfast to be cooked at home.

Hugh said...

Sorry, I was clearly confused as to what Browns is. Point remains though. People rant about how some local caff bosses cream tea at Claridges when in fact it bosses your wallet and laughs at you with each burnt microthimble of "coffee" served us as espresso.

Well am I right?

Ross said...

wait, wat?

Brockley Kiwi said...

@Hugh,

In my opinion you're not right. People's enthusiasm for a vibrant local cafe scene goes well past the quality of the food. While a tasty english breakfast is important there are other elements that are as equally important. A nice spot to read a sunday paper, meet friends, a change of scene, not having to cook and do the waashing up etc.

Gourmet breakfasts, are in my opinion, generally disappointing.

Anonymous said...

You can get a decent breakfast in the cafe next to where moonbow jakes was.

Tyrwhitt B said...

Fantastic breakfast and even better customer service, what a nice place to have a really good coffee and a nice chat, we visit twice last weekend and I hope to become a regular.

Anon sucks. said...

^Obviously you have never seen the blog then.
%$^&ing spammer.

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