We’re finally getting back to normal. And the good news is, while the going has been tough and there’s been a lot of hard work and trouble along the way, most of Lavender Hill’s shops and restaurants have made it through. We know that this owed a lot to the hard work of their owners and staff – but we know it also relied on your continued support in lockdown – for which thank you! Several restaurants have even made the most of the quiet times to invest in the business to be more ready for full reopening – like Yano Sush pictured above, with an improved terrace & new decoration.
Lavender Hill Fish and Chips opened shortly pre-lockdown and has proved a huge success – with long queues on Fridays in particular, and a reputation going far and wide – we’ve met people waiting who walked all the way from Clapham North! It’s been such a success, indeed, that the owner has taken over the rather dilapidated former chicken shop next door, which is being converted to a kebab & grill shop; work is currently underway to refit the premises (pictured below). Looking at the success they’ve had in creating a reliably high quality fish & chip restaurant, we’re confident this will do similarly well.
Pizzeria Pellone has been another major lockdown success. Opening not too long before this all started, the quality of Antonio’s Neapolitan pizzas really caught on and the entire restaurant became a hub of takeaway activity, with crowds of collectors & delivery drivers around. Now juggling an eat-in and takeaway trade, we have a feeling they may need larger premises.
Our Portuguese bakery SweetSmile ran a takeaway service, but then made the most fo the downtime to develop the seating area so they can now offer a more comprehensive cooked food menu that is proving popular.
Room 43 took an innovative angle, at one stage running as a work-from-home alternative for those of us who are tired of working from the kitchen table, with inclusive wifi access.
Lebanese restaurant I Cook U Eat, who as we previously noted had the difficult task of opening just at the beginning of the pandemic, made it through and are creating a bigger better front terrace to make the most of the sun on this stretch of the street.
Sugarcane owner Tee has opened his second restaurant at 50 Lavender Hill, having made quite an impact with his first business on Wandsworth Road. Like the forst branch this is a Caribbean restaurant, but this one is Vegan. This is a very interesting venture: Tee’s just 26 but clearly found a passion for the food business when he got his first job in a Balham cafe as a 17 year old care leaver, and – reflecting the owner’s own experience- it offers employment to care leavers to help them get a way in to working in hospitality. Offering vegan grills, patties and fritters, Roti wraps and an array of freshly made juices and smoothies, it;s well worth a visit.
Our classic and ever-welcoming pub The Crown, who had a major refit a few years back to create a better kitchen and modernise the pub quite substantially, spent the early lockdown closed, then briefly ran a takeaway service, but have now developed their outside seating area and are properly back in business. Without the offer of takeaway food, and losing all the alcohol sales, pubs have had an especially difficult time and need all the custom we can give them now.
The locally-owned Baguette Deli has proved that there is a solid local market for a fresh baked croissant and a Croque Moniserur delivered at 7:30 am on a Sunday mornbing, and more generally has developed a strong local trade in fresh coffee and French light food.
Long-established quality Indian restaurant Khan’s and only slightly newer stablemate Palace Spice both soldiered on through most of the lockdown thanks to takeaway trade and delivery – but there’s no doubt it was tough (not least because of the large fees that the delivery forms charge restaurants – a good point to say if you can pick up a takeaway yourself it’s always much appreciated by the restaurant) – fortunately we understand things are now getting back to normal.
Out highly rated Tumnan Thai – another Lavender Hill business that has been here from the beginning – also made it through, again thanks to takeaway and delivery trade and a good reputation in the neighbourhood that meant the orders kept coming.
El Patio (who also opened just before it all kicked off) took a very imaginative approach, with cooking sessions, goods to go, and lately an extended outdoor seating area. Well worth a visit now that they’re getting back to normal operations.
It’s not been all good news: one of our longest standing restaurants, Donna Margherita, developed an Italian produce shop in the first lockdown, selling products as well as a takeaway / delivery offer – but had the terrible luck of a rather severe kitchen fire a few weeks back. The fire was controlled and fortunately we understand there were no injuries – but it means there’s a lot of work to do to get everything back in to condition, so they’ll be closed for a short while. We’ll be spreading the word as soon as they are back.
Further west, Lavender Hill’s iconic Cafe Parisienne kept going throughout, with Kazim making sure he looked after the volunteers at the vaccination centre at BAC. There’s been an internal refit of the seating area too, to make it brighter and fresher.
Korean barbecue restaurant Yori opened in difficult times in what had been Ginger Kiss and have done well – initially with a takeaway offer.
Hannah has unsurprisingly made the most of its generous and sunny outdoor seating area, as well as the wide pavements right around the premises. A really nice spot worth, making the most of.
Our relatively few chains (Pizza Express and Nando’s) had the benefit of more developed business continuity plans for when disasters like the Coronavirus strike – and have carried on relatively happily. The presence of bored working-from-home staff misisng decent coffee shop coffee meant that our many coffee shops (Sendero, Caffe Nero, Baguette Deli, SweetSmile, the list goews on…) also generally did reasonably well – with the addition of new player 2Love whose second branch at the western end of the street is continuing to be popular.
All in all – it could have been a lot worse. We’ve got more restaurants now that we did before the pandemic. And most are small businesses – the result of a huge amount of work and commitment by their owners, amid stressful and difficult times. So now we’re able to get out and about a bit more – please do explore what Lavender Hill has to offer, and spread the word – as our custom and support for small businesses really matters. In a few days we’ll review how our shops have done (sneak preview: it’s a similar story of hard work, but ultimately survival).