Ladywell Fields cafe plan threatens red velvet cake revolution

Sara says plans to develop a cafe in Ladywell Fields similar to the Hilly Fields model may threaten the incumbent cafe. She writes:

The lovely Glen, from the cafe in Ladywell Fields says that it looks like he could be ousted. He has a petition to protect his business, which folks can sign at the cafe. Replacing Glen's cafe with something more generic would be a great shame.

He's a really nice guy, his wife's cakes are very tasty and creative, and his prices are very reasonable. OK, so he's more chips and lollies than hummus and soy latte, but his coffee is great and his cakes are home-made. Most importantly, he is a friendly, reliable independent trader, who keeps his prices low, despite the tough times.

Please can I ask BCers who support Glen to sign the petition on their next visit to the cafe.

21 comments:

LawrenceBC said...

Glen's business is worth protecting as he does a great job, is very popular and has a great approach to the job. Allowing a more corporate enterprise into the park will change the atmosphere completely. I'll sign the petition and I'd like to know who the petition is aimed at, who is making the decisions about whether Glen stays or goes?

Brockley Nick said...

The Hilly Fields cafe contract was managed by Lewisham Council. I imagine it will be the same in this case.

Pete Thornton said...

It would be a shame if he wasn't given the opportunity to run the newly remodelled café. Even if he is, what's he going to do for money in the time it takes to build the new building?

Tim said...

Last time I checked, we lived in a capitalist country.
Virtually all mainstream economists agree that competition is good.
Why not have another cafe? Why not have as many as the market will bear?
Glenn should of course be given the opportunity to tender for the contract. If his chips and lolly are as good as Lawrence suggests, he will have no problems.
Why on earth do Sara or Lawrence BC have the right to decide who works there any more than Lewisham Council?

Sleepy man said...

Not sure i have enough information to make a full judgement of what is going on here. Is the plan to redevelop the existing cafe with more inside seating like at Hilly Fields? Are there any plans or other information we can look at?

Like others, i also like the existing cafe (and the owner) But really think more info is needed before i can sign a petition.

As a quick aside on the post and comments. 'something more generic' (what does that mean?), 'hummus and soy latte' (enough with the lazy code and generalisations - working class people each chips and middles class people each hummus - nonsense), and reference to something a bit more corporate (is the hilly fields cafe corporate, and what is wrong with businesses making money in our parks - better than propping things up with public money). Mini rant over.

Pete Thornton said...

It's not a case of having two cafes, there'd only be one café and he wouldn't be chosen to run the concession. He'd be a victim of "progress".

Tim said...

What if the replacement Cafe was far nicer? What's wrong with progress?

Pete Thornton said...

Nothing necessarily. Some people obviously like the café as it is and it's a bit hard on him to be driven out (if that is what happens). It's not a case of being outcompeted.

Tim said...

Ok, so the basis for the petition is that "some people" quite like the Cafe. I'm fairly sure the council is run for the good of everyone,and not "some people". Furthermore, not giving other people a chance to compete and run their own businesses is a "bit hard" on them.

Paula said...

I totally agree with Tim. Competition improves services and is fair.
The cafe in Ladywell Fields is not good, it is poor quality and could do with improvement. I would go there all the time if it was like the one in Hilly Fields.
Let anyone who wants to run it tender for the contract and may the best one win.

Brockley Nick said...

The only time I've been there, I quite liked it, but it took an age to serve a very small number of people. There's definitely a good case to create a facility like the one in Hilly Fields, which is pretty much weather-proof and big enough to host a range of groups and events.


If the argument is that the incumbents should be given a fair chance to bid to run a new establishment, then I fully support the petition - the Council should not be so risk averse that it hands another franchise over to Pistachios. But I would not support a petition which says no new facility should be built.

Max Calò said...

Does Pistachio have a faster service? Not in m experience,I was in Hillyfields a couple of weeks ago, I had three people queuing in front of me and it took me at least 15 minutes to be served.

LawrenceBC said...

@Tim, I don't 'have the right to decide'. A petition is just that, it's up to the developers to decide whether to ignore it or not. While I like Hilly Fields cafe I don't necessarily think that it is appropriate in Ladywell, that already has Oscars and the new place by the station. Glen has done a great job in supporting the post-regenerated Ladywell Fields and deserves a fair crack at a new establishment.

Max Calò said...

Yes, Glen is a complete asset to the local community, market considerations on competition are rather out of place.

cafesociety said...

While the building that houses the cafe in Hilly Fields seems very good, Pistachios as a cafe franchise is really very mediocre. The food and drink are very greasy spoon standard, with not much imagination or variety.

I have visited a number of these places before and they are all much of a muchness. Mediocre food and service. Franchises are like that, they have the personality and flare removed from any enterprise. They aim for the lowest common denominator of customer. Good for a cup of tea and a simple sandwich or cake.

The fate of the existing cafe in Ladywell seems sealed unless they offer the same level of investment as a franchise can muster.

This kind of thing is completely consistent with Lewisham, it is a large organisation which likes a safe bet and prefers to do business with other larger organisations.

Max Calò said...

"Why on earth do Sara or Lawrence BC have the right to decide who works there any more than Lewisham Council?"


It's because they use it and know about it. They are the stakeholders that Lewisham Council works on behalf of. Unless democracy has now completely succumbed to the theoretical pure market forces as idealized by the fabled mainstream economists.

CB said...

Yes, I find comparisons here between the Hilly Field's café and the Ladywell café odd...they both have good cakes (but Ladywell's are cheaper), they both have good coffee (but Ladywell's is MUCH cheaper), they both have a limited selection of food (at roughly similar prices). They both have pretty slow but generally pleasant service. Based on that, Ladywell wins. It's certainly not worth an independently-run and perfectly adequate business to be forced out if only be replaced by a Hilly Fields equivalent...

Potential customer said...

It is great that Glen has stuck it out in the café and built a loyal following, but I do think there is demand for something more substantive. A bit of under cover seating, a reliable good quality selection of hot snacks and sandwiches, cold drinks and keep the ice-creams. It is bound to raise the ire of the usual BC trolls but some child-friendly stuff beyond the ice-lollies would be great - it is right in front of a play area after all. And some lavatories that don't require a course of tetanus injections after use would be a huge asset.

ian said...

He should be given the opportunity to improve. But over the years I've gone down there I have always been disappointed with the services and selection.

Ladywell Fields said...

There is a lot of misinformation about. Everyone likes Glen, but that's not really the point. This isn't about the popularity or inadequacy of the current operator, it's about the café space itself, and most LF users want a better café facility with indoor seating for all year round use, plus better kitchen and display space. Glen has previously expressed a willingness to invest in the building and now he will be given the opportunity, alongside other potential operators willing to make a longer term commitment to the Park. By all means sign the petition, but this will not stop the Council seeking 'expression of interest' from those willing to give us something rather better than what we have now. For more see www.facebook.com/ladywell.fields

terrencetrentderby said...

I prefer "Jay" from Budgens. Let him run the cafe.
Maybe Top Chef could franchise their brand?

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