Masons closes [UPDATED]

Masons, the Ladywell bar and restaurant, is closed for refurbishment according to a sign in its window. We've no further details at this stage.

UPDATE: It now appears that the closure is permanent, sadly.

72 comments:

patrick1971 said...

I was going to put something on the forum about this today. It seemed to happen overnight (I think it was open at the end of last week), and no refurbishment has been started. I hope it isn't in trouble.

Simon said...

@Nick-I am sad to report that Masons has actually closed as of last week.
Despite working hard and trying various menu's, Krishna the owner has decided to pull the plug before he lost any more money.
In my opinion this is a brave decision-as is going into business in the first place.
I'm sure many people posting on BC will have their own views on where Masons went wrong but I would urge them all to exercise some restraint when commenting.
Krishna has a wife and young family to support and I'm sure he closed the doors with a heavy heart.
Perhaps it would be more instructive for people to let us know what they would like to see from a local brasserie such as Masons?
In my opinion the restaurant occupies an excellent position next to the station, but I feel it needs a reasonable amount of money spent on the premises and possibly re-branding.
I take my hat off to anyone trying to make a brasserie work in Ladywell. Hopefully someone will come in and make a viable business.

fabhat said...

That's a shame - we had a really lovely lunch there a couple of weeks ago, and they were so friendly and helpful with two rather excitable toddlers at the table.

Let's hope Krishna finds more success in his next place, and that someone else can make that site work...

patrick1971 said...

That's really sad to hear and I did fear that "closed for refurbishment" was a euphemism in this case.

I've no idea what "went wrong". It's been there for years, always looked busy and I've always had a very good meal there, reasonably priced with excellent service. It was just right for a local restaurant.

I really hope some one takes it over who can make it pay; it's a great local spot. Best wishes to the owner and his family too. As I said, they were always excellent whenever I visited.

Brockley Nick said...

That is a shame. I've not been in there often, but when I did, I really enjoyed it. It was more of a bar than perhaps it looked from the outside and I thought it could have been a bit like the Orchard, although maybe the layout didn't lend itself quite so easily to the loungey style. Hope Krishna and family are well and good luck with the next move.

Do Ladywellians think the area can support a bar / restaurant?

D said...

It is a shame indeed - we've always liked eating there. That said, there were plenty of things about it that could have been improved. As Simon said, this probably isn't the time/place to go into that as the owners obviously put a lot of effort into making it work for as long as it did, but suffice to say I definitely think the location can support a similar business in future.

Anonymous said...

Sadly I feared that this would happen eventually. As a regular customer I myself felt that my recent dining experiences in there were not as positive as they used to be, but I put this down to the waiting staff and a new chef. It is definitely a fantastic premises with huge potential. The Orchard is packed every night so there is definitely room for another bar/restaurant of this nature in the area. Best wishes to Krishna and the family.

Anonymous said...

Went in there once but the prices were too high for day-to-day dining out and the ambience wasn't good enough for more special dining out.

Sad it closed, but surprised that it lasted as long as it did.

What Ladywell needs is a nice restaurant right on the banks of the newly refurbished river. Not another converted shop/pub on the main road.

Simon said...

@Nick
To answer your question-yes we do.
I think both The Talbot and Orchard have shown the way locally serving good quality fare.
Both establishments have been refurbished to a reasonably high standard and they seem to have got their pricing right as people are voting with their feet.
Ladywell desperately needs a place where people can grab a bite to eat and a drink in clean pleasant surroundings. The Ladywell Tavern is okay but the decor and ambience of the place put me off as well as plenty of other people I'm sure.
That isn't to say it's not a decent pub and there are some people who like it the way it is-me personally?-I prefer the ambience of the Talbot.
Masons could do with a bit more space for a bar area as well as tables for eating. The pavement seating area could also be spruced up to attract the after work-just got off the train-early evening drinkers. All of these things would take a reasonable amount of investment and anyone thinking of embarking on such a venture will have other site's in mind elsewhere surely?

Simon said...

@Anon 10.06
You mention the pricing being to high for day to day dining out-I have to disagree.
I don't think Masons prices were too high for people use the restaurant regularly. There may have been other problems, but Masons wasn't any more expensive than the Talbot or Orchard.
I remember a time when Masons was doing a two courses for £10 menu before and a little while after Krishna took over. When one considers how many tables there are in the place and makes an educated guess at fixed overheads and staffing costs, it is easily imaginable that this business model is not viable in the long term. Remember, entrepreneurs do not go into business only to break even or show a small profit, they take huge risk in order to make a decent living and be in charge of their own destiny. For some it works out that way, for it doesn't.
In my opinion, the key to a successful brasserie in Ladywell is getting the ambience, food, service and pricing right. Masons is a good site but it needs someone with the vision, the funds and the commitment to make it a truly successful business.
Again, my heart goes out to Krishna and his family.

Paddyom said...

Its a cracking location and should appeal more to the 'way home from work' crowd than it has done. The area could certainly support a nice gastro bar similar to the Orchard in this location. But it would need to be refitted as its currently a bit dated. I only ate there once and personally, found the harsh furniture uncomfortable and felt the prices were incredibly high for Ladywell. So we never went back. That said, the food was nice and the service friendly and efficient. I wish Krishna the best of luck in his future endeavours.

Ceona said...

For me Mason's was just a bit too restauranty to want to go to during the day. I think it needs to be a bit more of a cafe/bar/restaurant hybrid. Somewhere that I'd pop into during the day for a coffee and cake, or brunch, or a light lunch. I never really thought to go to Masons as it looked too formal. It's where I'd take my mum for a nice lunch when she came to visit.

Anonymous said...

"The Ladywell Tavern is okay but the decor and ambience of the place put me off as well as plenty of other people I'm sure. "

It's dreadful. It put me off. I went in there once with a friend for a drink and you couldn't hear yourself speak for the noisy musak.
Didn't buy a drink, left immediately, never gone back.

Simon said...

@Anon 13.30
You will note I did say re the Ladywell Tavern "some people like it that way"-I didn't say "all" and I didn't say I particularly like it.
That said, I always think it important an area offers a decent choice of places to eat and drink and those places should reflect the people of the area. I wouldn't want Ladywell to exist purely with Gastro-pubs but I also wouldn't want to drink everyday in a down at heel spit and sawdust joint either.
Ladywell is a mixed area and it would be great to have a reasonable choice of places go.
Would I personally prefer the Ladywell Tavern to be more like the Talbot?-yes.
Does that make me right?-no.
Some people like the Tavern just the way it is and good luck to them.

Anonymous said...

I must admit that over the two years ive lived in ladywell I've only been in there 3 or 4 times. This was pure and simply because in my opinion the food was expensive and not very good. However, the atmosphere in there was always good and it seemed to be quite popular.
Hopefully it wont sit empty for too long, I notice that the refurbished shop space No 46 Ladywell Road is still unused which isnt a great look for the area..

Anonymous said...

God forbid that all pubs/eateries will or turn out to be like the Talbot.

T (sandboy) M said...

Speak for yourself. It would suit me fine.

In addition I am also not sure there is a great difference in ambience between the Talbot and the Ladywell Tavern or perhaps I am just easily pleased.

Well I am actually; a well kept pint of bitter and I am happy as a sandboy.

Anonymous said...

Simon says "I don't think Masons price were too high for people [to] use the restaurant regularly."

Anon 10.06 thought they were. Paddyom said "the prices were incredibly high for Ladywell". Anon 14.12 (clearly a different Anon) said "the food was expensive".
The weight of opinion in this thread at present is clearly against you, Simon. Maybe you have more money to spend on dining out than others?

M said...

I used the restaurant regularly and don't think prices were too high either. Shame it's closed - I hope somebody new can take it on and make a go of it.

Simon said...

@Anon 16.41
You are quite right to pull me on the price of eating out-perhaps I have misjudged what people are prepared to pay.
In my experience though, Masons wasn't any more expensive than The Talbot or Orchard was it?
I would be interested to know what people on BC think is a reasonable price to pay for two courses in a bistro in Ladywell/Brockley?
I have eaten at both Babur and Le Querce (spelling?) and I have certainly found them to be far more expensive than Masons. It is interesting to note that both of these places always seem to be busy.
If I have misjudged the market then my apologies-it is perhaps why I shy away from investing in restaurants!

Wilson said...

The Orchard put their prices up by a few quid on everything a few months back. Which I think takes it out of the 'grab a few drinks and some food' bracket into the 'let's go out for some dinner'. Luckily Mo Pho has incredibly reasonable prices and the food is very high quality...

TM said...

I rarely eat out, because I am rather fussy and prefer what I cook myself, but I would say for Brasserie style eating in this area
Starter £6ish
Main £15ish
Pud £5ish
would be about right.

Or a meringue?
(You have to say the last bit in a Scottish accent)

Lady in the Well said...

I've been in Ladywell for five years and I've seen Masons go from very expensive but a nice treat, to very expensive and average quality, to 3 courses for £10, then it has slowly gone up and up and up until is was most recently very expensive for very average food and service. With all the fluctuations in quality in price its a pointless argument to have as to whether its expensive or not as we will have all had different experiences never mind differenct budgets and expectations.

Lady in the Well said...

sorry, having keyboard problems

Anonymous said...

It is a real shame. I've lived in Ladywell for a year and always enjoyed meals in Masons. I always thought it was incredibly good value. I am a fan of the Tavern as well (the quality of its wine is surprisingly good) but it is nice to have a choice. Do you know if they owned the premesis or were just leasing it?

Lady in the Well said...

@TM I wouldn't begrudge paying that for a decent meal, but I'd expect good quality food and good service for those prices. For the quality of food that masons was most recently offering, I think
starter £4.50, Main £10, pud £4.50 would have been reasonable.

Sue said...

Really sorry to hear they've closed. I liked Masons, but as others have said, for me the prices made it more of an occasional treat, rather than a regular haunt. I guess pubs can do Sunday lunches at barely no profit margin, on the basis that people will stay on and drink there, which Masons couldn't do. It generally seemed quite busy when I went past, so maybe it's difficult to cram sufficient tables in to make ends meet?

Anyway, very sad to see it closed, and hope someone else takes it on soon.

Re 46 - I thought the lease was let and a new business is planning to open up in the Autumn?

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed to see 27 comments about a restaurant closing without one reference to mung or honest or dishonest fare (so far).

Anonymous said...

Could it be the reason they are closed is because local people didn't use it enough,like other businesses in the area that have closed down.

.? said...

That's it! Give the man a rusk. Point?

Simon said...

@TM-I agree with your post re pricing for a meal in a brasserie locally-that is what I would expect to pay also.
@Lady in the Well-I also agree that what you pay depends upon the quality of food being served, the service and general ambience of the place.
It seems to me to be quite tricky to get the pricing, quality and service right. People's expectations and disposable income vary greatly and therefore it is of no surprise Masons has tried so many different formats and been unable to make it work.
My understanding is the property is a leasehold and the rent is approximately 23k per annum plus rates.
Hopefully the building won't remain vacant for too long.

pip said...

It's a shame - this area is very short of good places to eat in the evenings, and one OUGHT to be able to survive in Ladywell.

I haven't been for ages (three years, maybe), but from my own and friends' experiences I think it may have lost a lot of custom during a period a few years ago when it seemed to be chopping and changing every few months in terms of price, menu etc. That put me off going back (and it's a fair walk away, so I would have needed a particular reason to try it again), and so I can't be sure I ever went there while it was under Krishna's management!

It's a tough market - people have less disposable income, and food prices are increasing, but I'd still hope someone could make a go of it, with a decent proposition and good publicity.

BrockersBlue said...

Every restaurant has to get the three basics right if they want to succeed: the food (quality and price), the service and the atmosphere. Unfortunately, Masons failed on all three counts on my two visits this year.

The unit's a good size and in a great location - the right restaurant will do well there.

Anonymous said...

As well as a slight increase in their prices - the orchard also seem to have had some rapid changes of staff recently- asking for credit cards to be kept behind the bar - no longer able to order food at the bar- no more home baked bread- it's easy to destroy a winning formula

Anonymous said...

Really sorry to see Masons go although like everyone on this thread it seems we just didnt go enough. Was in the orchard on Saturday night and had a great time as usual and in regards to the previous comment we ordered home made bread from the bar.
Hope someone takes over the MAsons site and makes it work- if Els Kitchen, geddes and oscars can survive there is clearly money to be spent in Ladywell

Kinglard said...

@Anon 14:21

Slightly off from the Mason's topic - I know the windowlened windows don't look too good at the moment but we took on the lease of no46 at the start of the month and are currently working to get it ready. As you appreciate, it's been empty for several years and although the landlord has replastered, put new stairs to the basement, loo in the basement, etc, there is still lots to do. The interiors Walls have been painted this weekend but there's still the woodwork to do, floor needs to be laid (purchased and being collected this Thursday), basement needs fitting out for storage, shop needs fitting out, front needs painting, shutters need to be installed..... Today has been spent trying to get some power to the shop - the previous owner apparently ran up huge debts and so the electricity company need lots of evidence that we're not the same people! There's lots to do and we want to get it just right rather than get standard shopfitters in so please be patient! I won't say yet what we will be selling but we think that it will fit in well in the area and although we'll be called Slater & King, we're not an estate agents or solicitors.

It's a shame about Mason's as it's presence was certainly one of the reasons along with the range of other shops and services that we plumper for no46

Lady in the Well said...

How exciting!! but you can't leave us in suspenders..give us a clue

Anonymous said...

Not enough good, honest fare.

Anonymous said...

@kinglard
Please refrain from putting shutters up on your shop-it makes Ladywell Road look desolate for much of the time.
There are a few businesses who don't have shutters and they seem to be okay so why put them up.
There is evidence to suggest that having shutters over shops only encourages graffiti and other types of vandalism. The nicer a parade of shops looks, the less problems it seems.
I know you may be a bit cautious following the events of last week but I honestly don't think shutters help in the long run.

Sue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue said...

That section of Ladywell Road is now covered by the Ladywell conservation area, so planning permission would be required for shutters (and would be unlikely to be granted, certainly for solid shutters, I would imagine).

Anonymous said...

@Sue
Thank God for that. Ladywell Road needs all the help it can get.
There seems to be very little crime against property in the area anyway and I believe the place looks far better without shutters.
With them it look run down as if nobody cares about the area.

TM said...

Kinglard.......

Hmmmm

Pork butcher - successor to the late lamented Kennedy's?

Fish fryer rival to the Brockley's Rock?

Or Roy Hattersley's agent perhaps?

Answers on a postcard please

Brockley Nick said...

@Sue - or they could just not apply for planning permission and never have the Council do anything about it ;)

Gent Badger said...

It strikes me that what Ladywell needs is a betting shop. A savvy proprietor (or proprietress, for I am no bigot) could make a killing in a place like that!

Pete said...

There's a Corals in Ladywell already.

Why Bother said...

True Nick,I dont know why they bother calling it a Conservation Area anymore.

Danja said...

Slightly OT, but one of Cameron's knee-jerk reactions was to announce that planning restrictions on shop shutters will be removed.

Brockley Nick said...

Jesus is that true? How counterproductive can you get - let's turn our streets into fortresses, that will spread an air of calm and civic order and stop the rioters, just like it did in Deptford - oh hang on...

Anonymous said...

@kinglard, great to hear that a new business is taking over number 46, I look forward to finding out more soon and good luck with it.

Danja said...

Yes, it is unfortunately.

A quick google shows produces for example this idiot MP http://www.pauluppal.com/home/making-it-easier-to-protect-shops/155

pip said...

I didn't realise there were restrictions on shutters. Unless they are partly down I never notice them anyway.

Gobi Dessert said...

46 ladywell is an a1 retail which could mean:

Class A1. Shops
Use for all or any of the following purposes—

(a) for the retail sale of goods other than hot food,

(b) as a post office,

(c) for the sale of tickets or as a travel agency,

(d) for the sale of sandwiches or other cold food for consumption off the premises,

(e) for hairdressing,

(f) for the direction of funerals,

(g) for the display of goods for sale,

(h) for the hiring out of domestic or personal goods or articles,

(i) for the reception of goods to be washed, cleaned or repaired,

where the sale, display or service is to visiting members of the public.

Probably the worlds smallest funeral parlour

NAT said...

You kmow what might work incredibly well at that site, is a pub.

Increasing traffic from Ladywell station, The wonderful Ladywell rec. with its newly aligned river to hand. The happy throngs from a day at Brighton or at other leisures, their satisfied faces at the bar.

And to celebrate its redemption from gastro pub slavery , we could call it free;....'The Free Masons Arms'

Anonymous said...

I've read all your comments and it all boils down to supporting your local businesses. If you don't shop/dine there...then they just won't survive! It's the same in a lot of similar areas. Everyone wants to have lovely local shops to help create that 'villagey feel' but you can't just look at them from afar. You have to use them! And as for the shutters...unless you own a business and are faced with the absolute fear that was felt by so many business owners during the riots...you can't really ask for people to not use them! After all, are you going to pay for new stock/windows or even more important give business owners the confidence to open up again once their businesses has been trashed. Don't forget...we live in the borough of Lewisham, not some quaint little village in the middle of nowhere!!!!

Ladywally said...

@Anon 23.48-I also understand the local shopkeepers concern-I am one!
You will notice there are many areas in London with a mixed community where shopkeepers have taken the decision not to put shutters up-I believe Masons had much glass and alcohol in abundance but still didn't feel the need for shutters.
There are a few other shops in Ladywell and Brockley which do not have shutters over their big windows-they don't seem to get any problems.
Businesses are usually insured and there is an excess of approximately £700 for a large glass window. Although this would be an irritation should one have to fork out for any damage, I honestly feel it is cheaper in the long run to be without shutters.
If an area looks more affluent it will encourage trade and investment. If it looks run down and like a fortress the whole area will suffer.

Anonymous said...

Anon - nobody will support a business unless it provides what they want at the price they can afford. Masons, for whatever reason, was no longer doing so for sufficient people.

Simon said...

People do need to support local businesses if they are to survive but I also agree that the businesses also need to provide the products and services for people to want to use them.
When people are faced with a choice of whether they spend their money locally or further afield for a similar product or service, it would be helpful and supportive to the community at large to shop locally. Empty, boarded up shops with shutters down most of the time make an area look depressed. In turn, this encourages people not to care about the environment they live in and the local economy suffers. On the occasion one needs just to quickly pop down to the shops for some ingredient or service for convenience they will be unable to do so as all the businesses locally will have closed-is that honestly what we want?
Obviously if there is a significant price/choice and/or quality difference elsewhere then people will go elsewhere and I wouldn't condemn them for that.
When it comes to pricing though, a small retailer will be unable to compete with supermarkets and high street stores as they do not have the buying power of the big boys.
This is worth considering when complaining about local shops being expensive-we pay a bit more for convenience.
It is also the shopkeepers responsibility to make their shops look inviting and to have a frontage which doesn't make the local parade look shabby. I often shake my head when the small retailer complains when a Sainsbury's or Tesco Local moves in and the local grocery/newsagents complains that they are being forced out. All too often they have failed to provide fresh vegetables, decent bread or anything other than cheap wine, tinned/frozen food and no meat, fish or anything else which people can make a healthy substantial meal with. Far from being friendly local shops the shop assistant usually doesn't engage in polite conversation and just sullenly hold out his/her hand for payment. The shop often isn't a pleasant place to be in and the proprietor has failed to invest.
We now have El's Kitchen on Ladywell Road which is a real plus but where are we going to buy our meat/fish and other ingredients?
If customers still have to travel to the supermarket to get stuff they will most likely do the rest of their shopping there.
In the same token, if the restaurants don't offer good food and good service the same will apply.

patrick1971 said...

@GobiDessert,

"(g) for the display of goods for sale"

is, as Alan Partridge would say, "disconcertingly vague"!

I walked past Nightwatch today and the door was open (workman was taking a break). The inside walls have been painted the same soft grey as the wood outside. No nice flooring as yet.

Lady in the Well said...

@Simon - where can we buy our meat and fish? Peter James Butchers, great friendly local butcher. Use it don't use it!

Lady in the Well said...

dammit, that was supposed to read 'use it don't LOSE it'!

Simon said...

@Lady in the Well-Where is Peter James Butchers?
I'm afraid I'm not familiar with them. Are they within easy walking distance of Ladywell Road?
Convenience is also why we use local shops-not the only reason granted.

Lady in the Well said...

Peter James is 1 Ewhurst Road which is probably classed as Crofton park although no doubt someone will correct me on that. According to Google maps it's 14 minutes walk from Ladywell Road so a bit of a way but the meat is much better supermarket meat and it's a lovely old traditional butchers. He even gives regular customers a bottle of wine at christmas as a thank you.

Simon said...

Thanks for that I'll certainly give them a try-they are on my way home anyway.
I hope they are being well supported locally.

Lady in the Well said...

@Simon - you're welcome. if you do a search within Brockley central for 'Peter James' you'll see a thread about him.

patrick1971 said...

Worth remembering that Peter James isn't open on Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, but is open late on Thurs & Fri, as well as all day Saturday.

I really like this approach; he's actually realised that we're not in the 1950s any more, most households have both people working, so he's flexed his hours to suit his customers' needs, rather than sticking to the 9 to 5 formula and then moaning that everyone is now going to a supermarket after work.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit odd to suggest those living in the area should support local business to keep them open. I don't think we can be that sentimental.

Local businesses in Ladywell need to think harder about what what people want, and note the competition.

I ate at Masons once, and while it had potential, it wasn't serving what people expect these days. Visit East Dulwich (look further than Brockley all the time) and you'll find they are much more switched on to what people will buy, and return to.

An area of business frequently undervalued, and not really present in Ladywell, is really good customer service. Make people feel special when parting with their cash!

Finally, don't pamper to the few with big opinions and odd expectations, think business and what will attract not just the locals, but people from slighty further away.

Don't make it all about a local shop for local people, that won't keep it open.

Zarmo said...

It is a sad surprise to see the Mason going. I thought it offered in 2007, 2008 probably one of the best display of food offer in London for its value. Be real people, anybody who put a red mulet on starter, followed by a perfectly cooked steak with bucket of veggies is a becoming a chef celebrity in London. The selection of beer , Erdinger by the tap combine with a very honest wine list were making a great transition from bar to restaurant. Losing it chef must have been very difficult.
But hey Krishna, good on you mate and thanks for the great evening I had at the Masson and bringing your aura of difference and sense of quality.Been an entrepreneur myself and have few wine shops and wines in the city. It is difficult to get it right.
Idea conercing the empty location now, why don't the community knock at the door of Oscar and make a partnership with Petra if she would interested and use their expertise to do a coffee place with small kid play area for mumys for the lunch time and turn it into a Masson on the evening.

Zarmo said...

It is a sad surprise to see the Mason going. I thought it offered in 2007, 2008 probably one of the best display of food offer in London for its value. Be real people, anybody who put a red mulet on starter, followed by a perfectly cooked steak with bucket of veggies is a becoming a chef celebrity in London. The selection of beer , Erdinger by the tap combine with a very honest wine list were making a great transition from bar to restaurant. Losing it chef must have been very difficult.
But hey Krishna, good on you mate and thanks for the great evening I had at the Masson and bringing your aura of difference and sense of quality.Been an entrepreneur myself and have few wine shops and wines in the city. It is difficult to get it right.
Idea conercing the empty location now, why don't the community knock at the door of Oscar and make a partnership with Petra if she would interested and use their expertise to do a coffee place with small kid play area for mumys for the lunch time and turn it into a Masson on the evening.

Anonymous said...

Any of you guys still got thoughts re. Masons as it has been closed for a while now?

geoffbro2001 said...

Mason's (as was) is so well-situated, it's a shame to see the site still unoccuppied. Any clue as to what mifgt eventually bring the place back to life?

The Oracle said...

I believe talks are underway with a certain high profile high street food chain specialising in chicken, milkshakes and salads...

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