A new cafe for Tyrwhitt Road? You decide.

Reader Tim is thinking about opening a new cafe at the north east corner of town, to revive a site that's been empty for too long. When he got in touch about his idea, we gave him the benefit of our wisdom, but for some reason that wasn't enough for him. He'd like you all to help him decide whether to go ahead. Here's his message:

Many Brockley Central readers will have already met me - I work part-time at The Brockley Mess (I'm the most handsome one).

When I found out last year that Moonbow Jakes had shut it reignited a long-held ambition: to open and run my own cafe. Of course, upon doing a bit of digging I discovered that Ray and Mel (them of Royal Teas) had dibs on it. Jaded with my full-time voluntary sector job I got in touch with Ray, who offered me a couple of days a week, and I have been there from the start.

I joined the Mess after a long break from catering to re-learn the trade, with the intention of at some point opening something up myself. The Talbot opening and being successful got me wondering about the derelict grocers at the end of my road as a potential site. There's a dearth of cafe-type eateries in the area, save for the College Cafe on Lewisham Way and a few chicken shops further down the hill, if that's your thing. Neither of these fit the bill tremendously well for me, and I suspect the same can be said for a lot of other local people.
Cycling past one day I chanced upon a guy inside the building doing some clearance, so I stopped and quizzed him a bit. He works for the owners and they are starting to think about doing it up with a view to renting it (anyone who has seen the building will know that this will be quite a task!). I presented my seed of an idea and he seemed to think they might be receptive to this; I hope to be put in touch with them when they return from a holiday.

Really I am no further along than that. It will be a while before anything happens - if it happens at all - but it struck me that the first step might be a bit of very basic market research with the readers of the blog.
To these ends I have created a simplistic questionnaire to get the ball rolling. I would be grateful to anyone who can spare literally one minute to answer the six questions, and grateful, too, for the more expansive comments I'm sure this post will elicit.

Please complete the questionnaire here.

130 comments:

Maradoll said...

Tim, you would be my personal hero if you were to make a gem out of that poor derelict shop. I really hope that you go for it!

Tamsin said...

Would it be too late for you to add a request for people's postcodes to the survey? Or, if you have data protection worries, dropping off the last letter, or even both letters, of the second part of it. Might give you a fuller picture. I would hardly ever use the cafe, but then I live nearly at New Cross Gate.

tyrwhitt ali said...

I'd echo Maradoll's sentiments. That would be fab!

Paddyom said...

It is a great corner unit, however a very bust street so if it had a garden for outdoor seating I think it would be a benefit. I wouldn't use it frequently myself however as its too far from home (St Margaret's Road), but with no competition and lots of students / lecturers who may feel like a change to the canteen, it could work out. And the residents of Breakspears etc... would probably use it as a local. Not sure how many more cafes SE4 can handle....coffee is like the new religion!

Paddyom said...

thats busy not bust...:)

Brockley Nick said...

@Paddy - it sounds as though Tim's plans are more about food than coffee.

SE4's a reasonably big place and this end of town is not well served.

Anonymous said...

I think that it would be a wonderful idea & have 2 points-

What we lost in Moonbow Jakes & didn't regain in the Brockley Mess
was late opening hours- somewhere one can sit & read & work & drink coffee until late- if your cafe could provide this, even a few days a week, it would be a blessing & have the edge over all the other cafes in Brockley.

In that respect- what we have too much of are, to put it delicately, establishments that seem directed towards the 'yummy mummy' or 'creative young professional'. In other words the all-too-chirpy, triple-soy-latte & salted-caramel-&-brie-with-onion-marmalade type places. Brockley can get "nicer" without turning into East Dulwich- it's about not having a pan-European menu with lots of incongruous unseasonal ingredients that push prices up- in fact the Brockley Mess does this quite well.. but the yummy mummies still abound. Maybe it's the wallpaper. If your cafe can embody a stark alternative to that sensibility, us more, ahem, reserved locals who would rejoice!

I wish you good luck

Timmy2wheels said...

Thanks for the comments so far.

@Tamsin - I'm not sure it matters to know where exactly people live. People who live a fair distance from it, such as you, will probably just say they'll use it infrequently.

@Paddyom - it is a busy street but there's a small sunken outdoor area on the Tyrwhitt side which could be accessed from inside the building. I can see this accommodating a few tables and chairs.

Anonymous said...

Tim it's a fabulous idea. For starters think how many people would drop by on their way to the station in the morning.
I would be there every other day if you had wifi, 'working form home' as I do. There is no great cafe in striking distance from St Johns and this would fit the bill.
Plus there will be prams galore before you know it.
Go for it Tim.

Anonymous said...

You would be lucky to get 2 tables and chairs In that sunken bit.
Its a major job In Its self to get It any where near using It as a shop,Its more or less an empty shell.

Timmy2wheels said...

@ Anonymous - I would be looking to do something along those lines. I know it's easy to say, but I would want to make use of local suppliers and seasonal produce, and I feel strongly enough about animal welfare that I would want to use only free-range meat. All this has cost implications, though, and people expect things at a certain price point. I am into honest, hearty food, not wanky food, so you don't need to worry about sautéed larks' tongues on a bed of wilted chicory hearts.

My vision is pretty much the best bits of what we already have in Brockley, but all in one place. The great thing about this site is that there are currently three quite separate rooms (albeit small) at ground level which I can foresee doing differently to suit different types of clientèle.

Whatanothercafe said...

Its a good Idea Tim,but having been left derelict for so long I cant see any major work being done In the near future.

Richard Elliot said...

St Johns and this corner of Brockley is very badly served at the moment. I think there is room for another for sure.

Is there only demand is Crofton Park and around Brockley station? No. Build and we will come.

Good luck Tim!

Brockley Nick said...

@Richard - a round trip from Oz is a long way to come for a crepe.

Lady Well said...

I'd use it on my way to drop kids at school and probably *GASP* meet up with other mums/friends to have some lunch and a chat.
Those damn yummy mummies keeping all the cafes in business.

I would definitely prefer to have a laid back relaxed atmosphere where I felt I could hang around and read the paper. Comfort.
Brockley Mess is just too uptight feeling.
I really don't care much about twee furnishings and pretty little paper bags and bows. Pushes the cost up. What I really want is decent coffee made by someone who knows how to make it, friendly people who work there that chat to the customers, and a comfortable gathering area.

That part of town could dearly use a nice cafe/coffee shop.

Richard Elliot said...

@Brockley Nick - I didn't vote for the crepes! ;-) Paninis, salads and hot food got my vote.

You can only stay away from Brockers for so long, I'll be home soon enough.

Shell said...

This would be a great addition to St Johns, which is severely lacking in amenities. I've looked at that shop for years and wished I had the time/money/bravery to do something about it. I wiash you the best of luck Tim, and would definitely be a customer!

Miska said...

I'll definitely come on my way to the reclamation yard (I live at the bottom of telegraph hill)...

But please have lots of seating (and lots of tables for just one or two) and please do BIG mugs of tea. It's all little mugs, cups, or pots. I just want to sit and drink a big mug of tea (Starbucks can't be so wrong can they)!

And don't forget how you can't go far wrong with very good toast (different breads / toppings) rather than too fancy stuff.

Also, weekend newspapers (well, the magazines) will keep me spending money there as will nice Nick Drake-esque music!

Good luck.

x

Timmy2wheels said...

@Miska - after trying to keep the teapots and strainers shiny at the Mess, don't worry, it'll be a teabag in a mug. Pots, cups and saucers look very nice but they create a huge amount of washing up - bad for the environment, boring to do.

dearhunter said...

Do some decent meals at lunch time,and maybe evening,then wont have to use the over priced Talbot.

Anonymous said...

Tim -
my opinion is that the cafe wouldn't get enough trade in that area. Yes that part of Brockley is under-served for this kind of business but it's not the nicest part of town, and might not attract enough foot fall. It's not a destination area. I often go for a coffee or food at Broca or Browns, Toad mouth, and now the Orchard purely because I happen to be in that area for another reason - and I think these businesses now benefit from the station area being a destination.

I'd also regard the positive comments on here more cautiously than the negative ones. Naturally people who live around that area will say go for it, but can these people alone keep your business running? If people say they won't go to that part of Brockley then I'd take that as a genuine concern
- and as someone who lives within reach of the station I would never walk to that part of Brockley.

I clearly don't have the balls to open up a cafe in Brockley and all power to you for wanted to - but - if I was to open one I would choose a spot somewhere around Brockley Cross perhaps the Brockley road, where (yes you will be in some competition with the other businesses but) you are assured of regular footfall and you will also pick up over-spill and piggy backing from other establishments.

I'd think about all the work going on currently and planned for around Brockley Station. All those new people will be potential customers.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the cafe at the Tea Factory??

Brockley Nick said...

If writing this blog has taught me one thing, it's that setting up new local businesses always takes longer than people expect.

Anonymous said...

That's fair enough, but last time we were ready to talk about the chef and his style of cuisine, where people could park their baby strollers, etc - all feels a bit premature now.

Anonymous said...

Tyrwitt Road is a lousy location.
Location, location, location. Even a poor business can survive in a decent location while a great business will struggle in the wrong location. Think carefully before you sign on the dotted line.

Anonymous said...

It is a bit out of the way there.
Does it have a garden too? That would help. I would go if it was a cafe/bar open late with evening food and live music. It would need to have a really quirky bohemian vibe for me to head in that direction as it's not my usual route.

Anonymous said...

I know that some people on here have a thing against "yummy mummies" but if you want the cafe to succeed I think you do need to cater to mums & babies - there are an increasing number in this area and generally we do like to go out and have lunch/tea/cake etc and have time to do that. So I think you would lose a lot of daytime business if you geared it away from mums & babies whereas if you made it baby friendly (space for buggies, highchairs, somewhere safe for babies/toddlers to play, decent food at reasonable prices etc) then you would get plenty of custom in the day! The reason why the Brockley Mess gets so many mums & babies is because there is a real lack of places to go where buggies etc can fit. The new play room at the Broca is great but there's very limited space.

Anyway good luck with your plans!

Anonymous said...

How long do you want to wait before this new venture.
There will be commercial units opening on the west side of the station once that building is complete - i think this time next year?

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Tim

I wish you luck most notably because I am tired at looking at an awful eyesore each time I walk past.

The footfall in the Talbot suggests the location is not as bad as some people above imply.

Best Wishes

Anonymous said...

anon 12:16
Its not a good place for mum's and babies. It's off the main shopping areas and there's no parking.
The Brockley mess is on a much busier (in terms of pedestrians) stretch of road and has more homes nearby so very good for mums. I would steer clear of this site unless it was geared towards evenings.

Anonymous said...

Tyrwhitt Michael
I think people are more inclined to go out of their way to a pub as a destination in itself than a cafe.

People often choose a cafe because they find themselves out and suddenly realise that they're hungry/in need of a coffee. Most won't walk 3 blocks our of their way, they'll pop into the nearest acceptable one with a space.

Anonymous said...

If its down the Lewisham Way end of Tyrwhitt, it will have loads of potential with the college, the Talbot, St Johns station (its not all about Brockley station!) and other shops.

I would like to see a cafe with honest food at honest prices. Big mugs of tea, not a small teacup.

Anonymous said...

The college? Are you trying to me off going there or what?

Anonymous said...

'Put' me off.

That's done it for me.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a well-located spot to me.

Brockley Nick said...

My tuppenceworth was that it's a nice spot, in an underserved location and an opportunity to woo customers from St Johns and the streets of west Lewisham, Shell Road, etc.

However, it's got very low footfall, because there is so little to draw people to that area - people tend to get the bus along that part of Lewisham Way or walk through the conservation area if they want to head towards the centre of Brockley.

Nonetheless, The Talbot's early success seems to indicate that if you create the right kind of place that serves as a destination, people will seek it out.

I agree with the point about Brockley Road still having room for another cafe-type place. The holistic centre would be a good spot, although I'm not sure what the space is actually good for. Despite the presence of the Broca, the Orchard, TM2 and now Browns, I think there is room for something different and the ELL means that it will only get busier around there.

I personally don't believe that the new commercial units on the west side will be suitable for a relaxing cafe. I think it will work better as retail.

Anonymous said...

I just wish it was something other than a cafe or a deli. I'm getting fat, and very snobbish.

Anonymous said...

anon 12.33 - Mums with babies don't all have to be going shopping or drive to go to a cafe! In fact we are more likely to meet somewhere for lunch/tea etc rather than being out shopping and then stopping for lunch if you see what I mean. And the vast majority of mums I know around here walk pretty much everywhere locally so not sure why you think the location is a problem? We're not that yummy around here that we have chelsea tractors you know ;-)

Anonymous said...

anon @ 1243

so we don;t want students, we don;t want mummies, we don;t want laptop users... why don;t you try and open a cafe just to to cater for one audeince?

Anonymous said...

I'd say the footfall is far too low. It would be too risky.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:42 When did you last see somebody leave a pub and go to a cafe.

Anonymous said...

Tim - Ladywell would be a be better location. There would be competition but it has far more footfall than this strip of road. There are a couple of empty shops in Ladywell.

TM said...

People who are saying the footfall is too low, clearly don't stand outside the Talbot smoking a cigar like I do.

There are loads of people going past. Not just those who live in Tyrwhitt but others who divert to visit Taylors or Londis for last minute shopping.

Anonymous said...

Did you inhale?

Rosie said...

It would be fantastic to turn the old grocer's into a cafe. Have also been eyeing up that place.

The mornings and early evenings you'd do fantastic trade, especially if you offered takeaway coffees and teas on the way to St Johns or before people nipped on a bus across the road.

I'd often sooner go to a cafe after work and have a light bite in a relaxed atmosphere where I can read a book or catch up on some page proofs.

The Talbot should be the start of regenerating a part of Brockley/Lewisham with lots going for it and a decent cafe would be a great addition. It's a 5 min stroll to Hilly Fields, which is gearing up for more sports activities with the cricket pitch additions. Onstreet parking on Tyrwhitt Road isn't that bad, so people driving down Lewisham Way/Loampit Vale could easily stop in on impulse.

Would definitely be a customer if you decide to give it a go. It's an ideal meeting point for us and friends in Deptford, Ladywell and Brockley

Anonymous said...

Career suicide.

Anonymous said...

The Brockley Holistic site or maybe the memorial shop once the Greens have finished using it. These would be better sites.

Anonymous said...

The key will be whether you can attract folk from St Johns, or if your catchment area will be cut off by Lewisham Way.

I've yet to meet anyone who builds in enough time regularly to go even 5 minutes out of their way, so you may find coffee commuters limited to those who come up Tyrwhitt towards St Johns.

Brockley Cross would be a better location. The dry cleaners there has shut, but may be a bit too small.

Sorry this all sounds negative: you've got far more courage than I have to get to this stage.

My dream would be somewhere that offered half-decent Japanese food. There's no competition between here, Brixton and Catford. You can count on at least a couple of big orders a week from chez Anonymous.

Actually, doing a cafe and sushie might work there. There's a good profit margin on sushi, and kids love it, so you could get those yummy mummies in for a coffee and a natter as well.

Anonymous said...

I had also dreamt about turning that shop into a cafe. I really hope you go for it. It would be great. I recently moved to SE4 from SE13 and I think you'd get people from the surrounding area at the weekends not just close neighbours. No real competition around there is any direction. Always suprised by the lack of (open) cafes near Goldsmiths.
I agree, somewhere open in the evenings would be great.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

It used to be a butchers before It was a grocer shop.

Anonymous said...

Kids love sushi?

What, raw fish?

Oh, how the other half live...

Tyrwhitt F&D said...

I would definitely use it often, there is not a decent place this side of Brockley for a nice cup of coffee/tea and cake...

Not really sure what that anon is complaining about... yummy mummies, working-from-home laptop users and so on, are the ones who are keeping the business in areas like Brockley alive...

Tamsin said...

My guess is that on what will be quite a workaday corner site on a busy road you want to go for what one of the anonymii said - honest food at honest prices, mugs of tea not fancy teapots. A bit like the Ewhurst Street cafe being discussed on an earlier thread. No gimmicks (shushi!!) and uncluttered surroundings.

Wish you very well - that patch of road had been getting sadder and sadder for decades, like the multi-painted house opposite, but with the architectural salvage place with increasingly interesting stuff (anyone see the elephants?), the Talbot and now you it is definitely on the up. A far cry from what it was twenty years ago when I had reason to call on the desperately paranoid old lady living then above the grocers, which had no obviously legal means of surviving as a business.

Michael Dinner said...

Tim, you really shouldn't put forward Brockley -WhatA- Mess as your qualification.
In my five-visit/experience the service was (mostly) appalling. Though it did serve arguably the best breakfast in London, a twenty minute wait for service recognition just didn't cut it. (Not been back since.)
However, much look with your venture which I think is an excellent postion for such a prospect.

The Oracle said...

Tim, you're probably too young to remember the phrase - CARELESS TALK. There are quite a few people interested in Brockley now and you may be advertising a stall for someobody else to take advantage of. Softly, softly, catchy monkey.
La Lanterna is due for delivery June/July, so it will be interesting to see what this overlong and secretive refurbishment produces.

Timmy2wheels said...

@Michael Dinner - I am duty-bound to defend the Mess. Obviously I'm sorry that you had to wait so long for service but I don't think most people would describe the service as appalling. In the first few months we had quite a few changes of staff. Now we have a solid team which, by and large, works very slickly. Every business has its off-days...

@The Oracle - I'm under no illusions that I'm the only one looking at that site. Someone could easily come along with a better idea, more money etc etc. But being as this is my first such venture, and knowing that the site isn't an instant win, I thought it would be in my interests to discuss it here, rather than going in blind. If nothing else, at least people will feel they've been consulted a bit and be behind me, if not here then elsewhere.

Matt-Z said...

Go for it. Sell sensible food: sandwiches, rolls, drinks and snacks to go as well as eat-in meals. Keep/restore the nice old tiles on the place too. Mayber a student discount would encourage footfall?
It needs a decent name too. Don't call it the Loampit Lunchbox, which was the best I could think of :(

Anonymous said...

Matt Z - how many people really walk past this site on a daily basis?
not many I reckon.
Tim - check out other sites first before going for this one.

Michael Dinner said...

@Timmy2Wheels. The people I spoke to, like me, did not describe the service as appalling - to the staff - which it was.
In fact, most of the staff, ignored customers. This took place over a number of weeks (not days), but it was in the early days. And, yes, it usually took 20 minutes - for a coffee only: which is pretty appalling in my book.
In fact, after my fifth visit, with no signs of a reduction in the charges levied, apalling, let's call it lazy, service - screaming kids, an eggshell gallery space - I felt duty bound as a paying customer to spend my Brockley bucks elsewhere. However, on your recommendation I shall give it another try.

The Oracle said...

Timmy2wheels beware. The business trail is littered by the bodies of long-held ambitions.

Hugh said...

"I work part-time at The Brockley Mess (I'm the most handsome one)."

Best line of 2010. I'd definitely drop in for an espresso and with wit like that expect Tim would make a great cafe boss.

M said...

I've been to the Brockley Mess several times in the last few weeks and the service has always been very good - friendly and efficient. Nice work Tim, if it was you!

I think that in the right hands a similar enterprise on the Tyrwhitt Rd site could be just as successful.
I say go for it and best of luck. I'll be there if and when it does open.

Pete said...

Are there any retail units in St Johns? If anything I would think of that area of Brockley as being part of St Johns. If St Johns residents don't have anywhere to go at present I'm sure they would be interested in your cafe Tim.

As a resident of Ladywell I probably won't visit very often but then we've got Oscars. If St Johns doesn't have anything at all I don't see how you can fail!

Brockley Nick said...

It makes more sense to think of St Johns as part of Brockley. That spot is in SE4, part of the Brockley conservation area and in Brockley ward.

St Johns is lovely, but essentially that bit of Brockley over the other side of Lewisham Way before you get to Deptford.

Hugh said...

The real promise of the disused grocers plot, in my view, lies in its visibility. People like cafes with large windows on street corners. I'd love to see it succeed.

Monkeyboy said...

Hugh is being positive...I'm suspicious.

A cafe in Brockley Cross would be great as I live there. I still don't really get Brown's if I'm honest.

Paddyom said...

Just been to the Brockley Mess for some soup and a coffee and came out to a £60 parking ticket. Never new you couldn't park in front of Gogis after 4pm?! Most expensive bloody soup i've ever had...

Tom said...

I see people!

silburnl said...

Speaking as a biased St Johns-ite regarding passing-trade magnets - in addition to the college, the Talbot, the station and the salvage yard there is also the GP's clinic a little way down the hill which will help the mums/kids footfall if the number of bugs my two incubate is any guide. Also you're well placed for parents stopping in [post|pre] the Ashmead School run.

Potential future competition could be the cafe/baklavery that the Meze Mangal people have been saying they would open in their next door unit (the one behind the shipping container) at some point. Of course they've been saying this for a while and there's been no sign of anything happening so who knows whether it will ever actually materialise.

Regards
Luke

Anonymous said...

The Brockley Brunch?

Monkeyboy said...

That shipping container.... the candidate that manages to get rid of that gets my vote..... Except the BNP.....or any kind or religious chap.

Hugh said...

How about the Tyrwhitt Espress?

Anonymous said...

I live on Breakspears and would use it at the weekend if the breakfast/cake/service was good enough. Definitely.

I know you work there, so perhaps can't be objective, but the Brockley Mess service is actually really bad. I've been there twice and had to wait for over 20 minutes both times. The second occasion, the waiter forgot to actually to order the food, so we left after only drinks. I am NEVER going back there.

Lady Well said...

yes, agreed, BM service is terrible. I've been in 6 times and every time, something was wrong.
And does anyone there acknowledge you when you walk in?
I've yet to see it.
I really wanted it to improve, but I can't spend my (husbands) hard earned yummy mummy money there anymore.

Anonymous said...

The shop with the lovely tiles, yes I would occasionally drop in for a drink, but would love it if it also sold odds and sods of fine food...like Oscars and the place at the bottom of Tanners Hill. Fresh bread and oh for fresh vegetables.

Blue sky said...

It seems that people are claiming there's no footfall purely because they don't happen to walk past the site very often! I walk past it 5 days a week, twice a day to take my daughter to school and there are obviously many others in the same situation as me. I can see myself popping in after school drop-off for a coffee with other mums, or after school for a quick drink/snack as a treat for my children but it wouldn't be an everyday occurrance for me. However it would also actually be the nearest cafe to the cricket/football/playground at hillyfields - until a cafe opens in the park that is. A tyrwhitt road cafe would be great for the shell/brookbank/overcliff part of Lewisham, whose nearest cafe is currently probably oscars in ladywell. Somewhere in the other direction would be great.

Anonymous said...

I would very much encourage this idea. Look forward to reading more about the project on this website.

Anonymous said...

Re. the 'footfall' question- if you really do offer something different, and manage to open something friendly, inexpensive, with better food (porridge- far too few places serve porridge) than the other places, of course you'll get enough custom- people will walk down a few extra roads if they have a good reason to.

Most people in cafes are there because they have intentionally gone there, not by accident.

hilly said...

Apart from the plan to serve cricket teas at the Bothy, there has been interest in developing the park keeper's room into a cafe. Nothing has been progressed, assume would be contenders lost interest. If it were to happen the council said they would have to put it out to tender and interested parties would bid with their offer. They would need to invest the money to do up the building for a cafe and in return get a lease for however many years.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

It's probably worth going along and sitting outside the building for half an hour or so at various times/days of the week and count the number of people who currently walk past to get an idea of the possible footfall.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you could use one of those counter things.

Matt-Z said...

What about the thousands of people sitting and standing on the buses which pass each day? It's a prominent site with significant passing trade opportunities, which are only going to increase as and when Lewisham builds a new swimming pool at the bottom of Loampit Vale, barely 10 minutes walk away.

Anonymous said...

I've generally found the service fine at the BM - I try to go when it's not that busy, though.

I had the eggs royale there yesterday and it was absolutely delicious.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a marvellous idea, just what we need in this part of town. I really don't think footfall would be a problem, Lewisham station is only 15 minutes walk away. I will be passing every weekday and providing food and service were good would go for brunch at weekends.Go for it Tim, looking forward to seeing you there.

CllrJC said...

Although this has already had a large number of comments as someone who lives nearby I thought I would add my comments.

Living on Breakspears Rd and being a student I spend a lot of time in the local area, not only at weekends but in the day time as well.

Personally I would love the idea of there being a cafe and I can only speak for myself that if it existed at the moment I would frequently use it. Working on essays or casework there are so many times when I just want to get out of the house but the shops and cafe's in Brockely are just slightly too far away and turn a short trip out to an entire afternoon.

I've recently made trips to the Talbot, which is the perfect walking distance from here as well as the reclamation yard. The site is also not far from the doctors surgery and nursery which may provide further custom and anyone walking by to and from St Johns is bound to make use of this.

I would suggest that you do a basic footfall tally at the site to see how many people walk by at peak times which might give a better indication.

You would certainly get use from the college, I was thinking of students but probably staff as well. I see huge amounts of people walking back and forth along Lewisham Way to the more 'greasy spoon' cafe' in the other direction. I don't see why you would want to discourage this kind of business, those who want the kind of environment you are offering would surely make a choice between what is available.

Good luck with it, I think it's a good site!

Jenni

little said...

Re all this talk of footfall:
I live on the corner of Wickham road, and although I'm not normally around in the daytime, I was surprised at how busy that road is at lunch time.
And sorry @anons, I think the clientele is all about Lewisham College students. Their patronage would be crucial to the success in that location.

Anonymous said...

There's plenty of people who walk by the shops or The Talbot now but not everyone goes In,what does this theory prove.

mintness said...

The doctor's surgery point is a really good one, I think. Hadn't occurred to me at all until it was mentioned, despite it being my repeat prescription source of choice, but the sheer number of people passing through the area on an average weekday as a result must be pretty substantial.

Anonymous said...

I think it is an excellent idea to open a cafe in that spot. There are lots of people who work at home in the area who would use it during the day. I certainly would.

emmajem said...

Agree with many of the pro-arguments posted already. Attractive potential premises that coupled with the Talbot will start to make that little area at the bottom of Tyrwhitt into a go-to place for coffee/food/booze. I will happily and regularly make a bespoke visit to go if it is good enough. Plus, plenty of existing business from the students and the hordes of parents I see milling around that area at c.9am every morning!

Headhunter said...

I think the cafe there would be pretty visible to people passing along Lewisham Way on buses or on foot, so would probably do quite well. What happened to the proposed developement of the W Stone site? Did that get approved? If so, more customers there too.

ppp said...

You're getting a positive from me. Go for it. You will have to market the shite out of the place though, to build a regular clientele. It is out of my way but i will travel for quality. For instance I am still regular and frequent patron of Royal Teas, because of the quality of product; food and atmosphere.
The hardest thing about this is thinking about who your customers will be, the people who'll sustain your business day in, day out.

Best of luck

Crofton Parker said...

I agree about figuring out who your customers will be - it's not just about overall footfall in the area, but the kinds of people living there.

I know I never, ever go to cafes in Brockley area - if I am in home-ish zone I don't spend the cash. I only use them if I need to kill time out and about in another side of the city. You need to be sure there's a catchment of people with the time and money and inclination to eat out.

I'd be checking to see if there are any very nearby mums' groups etc, who like a social place to meet. Problem with college students is they'll often sit for hours with one coffee, enjoying the wifi!

Anonymous said...

As opposed to the Mothers who will spend fortunes.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a great site. I live in St Johns and walk by quite often on my way to/from Lewisham.

I think you would need to do takeaway tea/coffee and cakes/ sandwiches to supplement the "sit-down" business. If you offer a good weekend breakfast, you'll definitely be seeing me!

Best of luck with it.

Anonymous said...

The cafe owners of Brockley, I am sure, are well aware of which type of customer spends how much money.

Some of them are quite content to let the Brockley Mess enjoy the lucrative business of extracting gold from the wagon train of expensive baby buggies that patrol the neighbourhood looking something organic for their bundles of joy.

For the losers there are but crumbs left. They will no doubt struggle to scratch a living from the impoverished students and homeworkers who need somewhere pleasant to work outside of their own four walls.

But then again I am sure there is a benefit to having peaceable regular customers who are not wont to projectile vomit, wail, scream and make generally make a mess.

Anonymous said...

I went past tonight - it would make such a good cafe: you have college regulars, the WP Stone development, passes by who walk into Lewisham, not to mention all those who live in the area.

Intersting point about WIFi - I think it was WIFI that did in Cafe Neu on Brockley Road. People would take up tables for hours nursing one coffee whilst on the net.

Much better to have something like the Brockely Mess - where the college lecturers may want to go for lunch - or if a more traditional cafe ensure there is no wifi.

Blue sky said...

I don't know why these people who 'work' from home think they have more right to visit a cafe and ate less annoying than mothers who are ALSO working from home and who have just as much right to have an occasional change of scene from the 4 walls of their house. What's more, mothers buy for them and their children and they tend to stay only as long as they know their children have the patience for whereas people 'working' sit with 1 cup of coffee, tapping away for hours. Cafes are sociable places where there will inevitably be some noise and activity. If you want somewhere peaceful to work that isn't your house, you could always try - shock, horror - an office.

Blue sky said...

Thats 'and ARE less annoying than mothers', sorry

AllforSmallShops said...

The way people are saying how popular this venture could be,with the amount of people walking by,wouldn't It be the same If It was a traditional Butchers or Bakers.

Timmy2wheels said...

I think having WiFi only does for a cafe if you allow people to sit for hours with one coffee when new customers are leaving because they can't get a seat. If it's quiet, fine - let people sit for ages; it's better to have people in as they attract others. But if it's busy, you have to police WiFi use a bit better and ask politely encourage people on the Internet to buy something else or move on. It's called pragmatism.

ppp said...

A cafe is a retail outlet, retailing is about selling. You need to understand what people want, and also have the know how to get people in a buying mood. People want quality and value. Get that right and you're onto a winner.

Anonymous said...

When it come's to stating the bleeding obvious, you're the best.

Anonymous said...

I have also noticed that some people read books and newspapers in cafes.

Surely these troublemakers should be discouraged to make room for the freespending matrons of Brockley.

Personally I would like to see a cafe that is quiet and social. Where it is possible to have a conversation. Kids are fine if they do not disturb other customers.

Sadly there are a few parents who really haven't a clue. I think we have all seen them cause a commotion wherever they go. As much an embarassment to other parents as they are an annoyance to other patrons.

Brockley has a few families like this, I daresay the are the bane of a cafe owners life and no doubt resented by the staff who usually have to clear up the mess.

Anonymous said...

fORGET THE COLLEGE. IT'S MOVING TO DEPTFORD, SO YOU WONT GET MUCH CUSTOME FROM THEM.

Anonymous said...

I live in Breakspears and would love someone to do something with the site - it has great potential and I would definitely walk there and support you IF (and only if) you serve decent coffee - I am still yet to experience a decent coffee in SE4 (haven't been to Browns yet though)....why can't one of the cafes simply make a coffee like you can buy at Monmouth? Is it really that hard?

Anonymous said...

When the college goes a resdiential development will follow - lots of potential custom

Brockley Nick said...

Don't hold your breath for the college move in any case, funding got delayed for that.

Hugh said...

May I add my support to those who can't stand selfish mummies who have fck all else to do but colonise cafes and other pleasant places with their screaming issue. The cafe at the Greenwich Picture House also has its contingent.

ppp said...

To anon of course it's obvious but tell that to Brown's and Rhythms. And thank you, I AM the best.

Anonymous said...

The shops been derelict for at least the last 10 years,so dont expect anything being done In the near future.

Anonymous said...

Do it. I've just learned that practically every property over one million pounds has suddenly been snapped up; that includes the Red House in Wickham Road. Agents are canvassing large single dwelling owners askinf if they will 'accept offers'. Obviously the monied set desires a seamless transition, as the ELL starts to push through deals prior to its arrival.

Anonymous said...

......that includes the Red House in Wickham Road......

No!!! It's finally sold? I was saving up my pennies for that place. Gutted! ;-)

Anonymous said...

GAZUMP 'EM WIV A QUID.

Hugh said...

In a few weeks those large houses will be back on the market.

Pete said...

Why? Are you flipping them Hugh?

Anonymous said...

Just can't bear it, can you Hugh? Being wrong is tough, eh?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like there would be no shortage of customers passing the location, including those passing to go to the new nursery (Cherryli)in Tyrwhitt Road. Got a leaflet through the door the other day.

Anonymous said...

Being bought by workers at Canary Wharf.

Anonymous said...

I've just googled that red house and it comes up as "unavailable". is it sold, does anyone know? and, if so, for how much?


re a cafe on Tyrwhitt, absolutely, i'd jump at it. THat little area could become a sort of destination with antiques, pub, etc.

Blue sky said...

Not sure why people are under the impression that cherryli is a new nursery. It has been there for at least 4 years in my knowledge, probably longer.

Tressilliana said...

Opened in 1999. I was puzzled by that statement too.

Tamsin said...

Just sounds as if they have been leafletting - and if they haven't come across your personal radar before this could give the impression of being a new business.

Anonymous said...

Seems like there's a lot of latent demand for cafes north of the station. Around Brockley Cross, as well as the dry cleaners (Anon above), there's a nice little site at the end of Upper Brockley, where the hairdresser "Tony's" used to be. Not directly on the main roads, but highly visible from them and passed by a lot of folk on the way to the station. It may also have a garden: can't tell from Google Maps if it belongs to that plot or not.

The Oracle. said...

The Red House is under offer at pretty close to its asking price. (You can see how much this is if and when when the sale goes through.)
The other large properties are also under offer, or sold at for a much lower price of £1.2m than the Red Hosue. Leaving only one of the very large properties to go (at today's posting, but this seems to be the most expensive property in Brockley.

Anonymous said...

You wouldn't get any yummy mummys at the proposed cafe in Tyrwhitt.
They're all across the road in the creche known as The Talbot.

Anonymous said...

Hi Blue Sky (02/03 08.10).....it was one 'people', sorry I thought it was a new venture; leaflet came through the door a little while back. Thought I was making a contribution, didn't want to make a nuisance of myself or a prat of myself...sorry

Anonymous said...

Just come cross this thread. Tim, this humble local resident would love it if that eyesore became a cafe - a good coffee or a mug of tea, some chunky toasted bread, and cooked breakfasts which include poached eggs would be a real weekend magnet, and I would stop off for a morning coffee (and a bit of brekkie?) every weekday morning. Tywrhitt Road is generally a busy road - but you would really only know that if you live on it. There will be plenty of local customers for you. I hope this is still a plan and I wish you lots of luck! And after a long time away from Brockley Central I love the fact so many posters thought Tim might not actually have thought of counting the footfall himself. You gotta love Brockley Central readers' arrogance!

Anonymous said...

Saw a post on here about derelict shop on Tyrwhitt road going to auction by Lewisham? Could somebody kindly confirm the rumour? Shed more light? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Could not have said it better myself, really hit the spot

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