We’ve taken a quick look behind the scenes. Small-but-growing local business Megan’s took a new lease on the long-closed and dilapidated Recovery Cafe next to the skate park & basketball courts, and for the last month they have since been hard at work turning it in to a completely new restaurant. It will offer a slight variation on their broadly Mediterranean themed menu, with the unusual (for London) feature that all of the seating is outside.
We previously reported on their plans, and what has been built lives up to expectations – with a completely new look for the premises. The building used to have an indoor seating area and a small Cafe kitchen at one end – whereas it is now only acting as the kitchen, with all the seating outside. This allows for a much larger and better kitchen, and hence a proper range of food – but it has meant a big investment in the external areas to create a decent seating space. A lot of work has gone in to upgrading the whole fabric of the building, which had not really seen any investment for years – there’s new drainage, new extraction, a new terrace, a new kitchen, and of course a major makeover to the general look and feel of the site.
The Terrace by Megan’s will run as a restaurant & takeaway deli, serving all day brunch, lunch, dinner & takeaway picnics. The menu will be slightly different to their other restaurants, and will include sourdough pide pizzas. At the time of our visit the finishing touches were going in right across the site – but the kitchen was clearly getting ready to open. Blinds and awnings mean there should be some shelter in bad weather.
The plan is for Megan’s to open for takeaway only this Friday – with the seating areas opening about a week later (currently advertised as the 12th April). Hours are currently expected to be 8am to 10pm Monday-Thursday, opening a bit later to 11pm on Friday & Saturday, and 9am-9pm on Sundays. Though bear in in mind that as with any new business opening hours tend to get adjusted as they see how demand varies during the week so check their site before heading there especially early or late.
It’s good to see that the capital investment that has gone in to this site. Previous owners struggled to make this site work, because there simply wasn’t enough space in the building for the kitchen and seating needed to make it viable, and the site got gradually more run down as a result – to the point where it really needed a lot of work. Megan’s have certainly turned around the appearance of the site (hats off to the builders who have done a fine job here – and thanks to them also for letting us have a look around). Megan’s are also trying a completely different approach, and we suspect it will be pretty successful.
This is not the only change underway on the Common, as the cafe next to the bandstand is also starting to undergo a big transformation. After many years as popular and notably child-and-dog-friendly cafe La Baita, the lease has been sold on to the operators of the Pear Tree Cafe, and works have recently started on a big renovation of the building.
It will be the Pear Tree Cafe owners’ second venture, building on their current cafe in Battersea Park. At their first site they turned around the fortunes of what had been a distinctly underwhelming Cafe with dubious menu, a tatty and undersized building, and service than really never came with a smile; to a really thriving business that (if anything) has been a bit of a victim of its own success with sometimes substantial queues and difficulty handling the demand. This new site has lots of potential (and was in less trouble to start with) so it will be very interesting to see how they develop it.
And as we reported a month ago – the run-down old toilets building at the edge of the woods is also up for letting, with potential to be developed as another cafe. No news yet on that one, it’s more of a challenge given the dubious current state of the building but it does have enormous potential (we’ll keep you posted if we hear anything – and if you have any news on these sites do let us know).
Lambeth Council – STOP THE SALE OF THE OLD PUBLIC TOILETS ON CLAPHAM COMMON ! – Refurbish them FFS! Adults would be happy to pay (anything!) – free for children. Fine if they’re just the totally utilitarian, continental style holes in the ground, that can literally be hosed down with disinfectant each day and locked at night. Station the Park Police close by to deter the usual suspects – and the site could also provide a known point to get emergency assistance for the public on/around Clapham Common. We don’t need another overpriced cafe, we want safe public loos and to stop the woods and surrounding streets turning into open sewers. It’s a basic human requirement – Lambeth Councillors! – and a better use of our Council Tax than many of the other useless ‘initiatives’ you’re happy to fork out for…
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