After a long run of successful pop up businessess in the council owned shop on Hoe St they’ve decided to go large and turn the big unit on Central Parade into a hive of startups (God, I remember when it was the benefits office while I was out of work 2008 to 2011). According to local artist Antonietta Torsiello (who I’ll return to later) the venue is a project with an organisation called Meanwhile Space who turn unused buildings to profitable community use.
But initially we were there for lunch at the cafe run by local bakers Today Bread (Check out how rough their website is). While it’s clear in the picture it was busy it was not too bad for a Saturday lunchtime. While in the queue my partner went and grabbed a menu…
“Meat sandwich”. Nope, not at all ominous. Did not have me wondering where all those missing Walthamstow cats are, nope…
So we got to the front and the meat sandwich of the day was a sliced italian procsetto (sp?) with beatroot. Sadly they later found they were out of meaaaaat (sorry, just sounds like that in my head) so my partner joinded me in a cheese and onion pickle sandwich as she didn’t fancy the third and final vegetarian option. There are a few small cakes too but it’s nowhere near the spread you get at Indulgence. I had an Earl Geay tea and my partner a coffee. We camped on the stools next to the window to watch life go by. Already out were jugs of tapwater and fresh little glasses; always a classy touch. My partner really liked the coffee and thinks it may be the same nutty blend used in No 56. When they brought our drinks over we also got the wifi password which is always appreciated.
And the sandwich was really nice. The cheese tasted really good, not cheap supermarket gumf. And the bread, as one would hope, was excellent. Obviously more expensive than a sandwich along the high street but not overpriced and a genuine pleasure.
After the nice lunch we had a browse at the display cases around the cafe area showing local products and a look in a couple of the retail units. Which is where we met Antonietta who told us about her work and sharing the unit with another artist. My partner was very taken with one of her African prints which had red telephone boxes as a motif and treated herself to some art! Not what we expected to do today.
The other units seemed to be a photographer, a wedding dress designer and a crafts/gifts shop.
While browsing a map of the venue there seem to be office and studio spaces downstairs plus the shared work space.
Overall I think it’s a very positive venture. I was visiting family in Stoke-On-Trent last weekend and this is the sort of venture that could really boost an area hit by the recession like that. I’m glad we have one here; despite gentrification there are still plenty of people who need support to get their dreams off the ground.