Yes, yes, yes! I live on Vancouver Road and I would absolutely love a coffee shop I can walk to easily with my toddler. We try to go to the Phoenix Cafe but often don’t have cash on us and I get caught out by the opening hours. It is the one thing I wish for nearly every day living here. Going into Forest Hill feels like a bit of a trip sometimes, as does Catford. I also find the coffee shops in FH pretty inaccessible with a pushchair. The service in the newly opened Smallworld coffee is wonderful but the location isn’t pretty when the traffic is heavy. Combined with the new bookshop, and proximity to the playground, I think you’d be creating a lovely little hub.
Thank you. The units are a little overpriced given the location and their size so it’s important I can secure a better deal to keep costs down while I find my feet. I plan to start with a smaller range and slowly build up. On that note I was considering opening at weekends only for the first month and then expanding the opening hours as the polls suggest weekends would be the most popular times. Does this align with how you see locals using a shop like this? Also what hours do you usually pop into your coffee shop of choice? On wastage I plan to donate to a local homeless kitchen but of course I want to minimise waste to start with.
It is worth thinking about what you can do after school as Rathern is very close by. My Jami in Honor Oak does things after school and get a lot of coustmers from Stillness school.
I would definitely visit such a place. I live on Cranston road and often just want to take a stroll for a really decent coffee, especially on a weekend if husband is working. FH obviously has the lovely St David’s and Archie Parker, but a little far for just a wander and often very packed.
Love No.41’s coffee but the strip you’re talking about isn’t much further and if it offered something different I’d go for sure.
Bread is a big enticement for me - whether just bread or full on bakery.
I really like Brick House in East Dulwich, I think they strike a great balance of being informal/ welcoming and doing few things (crucially, the coffee and bread!) excellently. I’d love to see this kind of thing start to pop up. Granted, it’s not yet a fit to what else is there - but Tales on Moon Lane opening is a massive coup for that strip and they surely must see the potential…
I’m a landlord so might be able to help/advise if you want.
I think weekends would definitely be busiest. However I wonder if a Friday too as lots of parents that work part time have Fridays off?
I know you want to make it baby friendly, would there be room outside for example to create a secure buggy store so you don’t necessarily have the place filled with buggies but parents have somewhere under cover that you could put them?
And if you became a Local Greens collection point too ( a very good local veg box type service that’s just reached the area from other parts of SE London) I would visit even more often!
What a good idea
I think you could get trade from people visiting Blythe Hill park. I’ve often been up there with my kids and wished I had a coffee to warm me up. On the downside you may have people from the park wanting to use your loo as it’s the one thing Blythe Hill is sadly lacking! There are some exercise classes run from Blythe Hill too so that could be another market.
Hot chocolate / babycino are good options to offer too for those with kids (and I would guess good profit margin too).
For take-out coffee, I keep reading about the environmental unfriendliness of disposable coffee cups so would you offer the option for people to take in their own travel mugs?
I really like the coffee at No.41, especially when the lady who runs it makes it (sorry I don’t know her name!). Probably my favourite coffee in Forest Hill.
The cafe at the Seniors does nice food (lovely eggs florentine), and is friendly, but I usually stick to tea there as I am bit fussy about my coffee…
I think offering bread on a Saturday morning could bring in locals who want to pick up a morning paper from the newsagent and something for breakfast/lunch.
My one bit of advice is advertise your opening hours very clearly, and stick to them! We all understand that small businesses can’t compete with the 24 hour opening of larger chains and I don’t expect that, but there’s nothing more frustrating than making a special visit to an independent shop and finding it closed unexpectedly.
There are lots of creatives in Forest Hill/Dulwich and Sydenham. I think you should make it as interesting as possible. There is nowhere for little ones to go. I would love to assist if you want some creative input. I am a documentary film maker and won an award for art curation for Southwark … good coffee nice vibe is always good. If a café is dull and the food and coffee is poor you never go back.
Yes I agree and the bookshop will be doing after school clubs which will mean parents picking them up later. It’ll be helpful to see the pattern of activity from the bookshop to guide my opening times.
That’s definitely true about Fridays and perhaps Mondays too. A lot of places are closed on a Monday. I’d love a buggy shelter but I’d then be getting into the realms of pavement encroachment which requires consent from the council. One to look into though. Secure hooks to loop a pram lock through could be less intrusive perhaps? I know that doesn’t solve the wet weather problem.
That looks great and would solve the problem of a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables here. I think they have quite strict refrigeration requirements (understandably) so one to check with them when selecting a display fridge.
Great idea - just saves your new shop being cluttered when the buggy doesn’t need to be inside. If it’s raining, rain covers on top. Or if the premises has a back garden that would be even better
A coffee van will be appearing at Blythe Hill Fields very soon so one to watch. Do you know what days the exercise classes run and how busy they are? Agree with your point about the loo, perhaps a necessary evil or even an opportunity.
I will welcome/encourage travel mugs.
Yes consistency is key regarding opening hours and I will need to be very clear if I’m to adjust them as I find my feet.
Thanks for your feedback and let me know if you have any other thoughts/annoyances.
Thank you. I would like to involve local artists, the Catford Arts Trail highlighted how many there are hidden in the immediate area. I’m originally from Brighton and love the variety of shops and cafes there. So I would hope to inject a bit of that here.
Thank you - is there anything in particular you’d like to see?
Definitely need somewhere on ‘this’ side of FH, as we’re severely lacking somewhere within walking distance to grab a coffee/lunch/fresh sourdough etc.
Keep it simple but great.
Best coffee shops in the area by a mile:
St Davids Coffee House - great coffee (especially their) Cappuccino , delicious food offering using great quality ingredients. Their Avocado Bacon Sandwich says it all - great bread, brilliant bacon and perfect avocado.
Blackbird in East Dulwich - as above + also great baked goods. Oh, and they sell some of the best bread around.
As the father of a new baby, i know that there’s about a million mums who would like somewhere on ‘this’ side to hang out at too, as they’re all currently at The Honor Oak, No.41 (very average food & drink).
@PriteshM I’m with you on @StDavid and Blackbird. Have always found @No41Coffee very good, though - they are really taking coffee quite seriously and it’s also a good model for atmosphere and customer service, so if @BlytheHillShop could recreate their vibe, it’d be great!
I’m a big fan of St Davids but if you can get your pram up the steps you certainly don’t feel comfortable with it if it’s busy. My concern with the unit I’m looking at is that it’s quite small and would potentially frustrate customers (with or without prams). I initially started out thinking it would be a boutique little coffee shop that sold bread, cakes, sandwiches and nice store cupboard items (olive oil etc) that was equally laptop and pram friendly should you wish to hang out for a while. But it seems that having a decent space to sit in is a priority. I think the space could work but I’m keen to hear more from people as I’m not tied to it. I spoke to Jonnie’s 2 who are actually looking to sell but it’s too expensive. I would welcome a propper brunch place replacing them as it would make the area more of a draw and wouldn’t necessarily damage my business if I create a good enough niche, but I’m not holding my breath.