Food and Drink News: Openings and Closings

Featured illustration by Sam Peet, used with permission. Thanks, Sam!

Some enticing news, some good news, some bad news.

Openings

There’s a licensing application in for Ambigu, a new restaurant over two floors at 58a Church Street, the site of the recently closed Kalabash African restaurant and Club Couture in the basement. The food would be small plate / tapas, largely Latin American, with a small bar and a late license. The team behind the application are involved with the Bermondsey Social Club, and Blues Kitchen in Brixton and Shoreditch. You can see more details on the published appeal to local residents [PDF].

It’s an interesting proposition; the request is to have a license until 2am, and Camberwell doesn’t offer much in the way of late-night dining. My guess is that there will be some objections about noise from the residents of Camberwell Grove. I can’t find a formal decision made on the application as yet.

Peckham’s famous Frank’s will be moving into a winter residency in the room above The Camberwell Arms, which they bought outright back in May (I missed that news at the time). Seems Camberwell’s Frank’s will be a cocktail bar.

Major refurbishment work seems almost complete at The Grove, on Camberwell Grove, which will reopen this month as Grove House (update: it reopened on 11th November). After the last tenants, the Grand Union chain, sold most of their properties to the Draft House chain, The Grove returned to ownership by Young’s, but they’ve said they’ll only be acting as landlords and the new tenants are private; I don’t have any details yet on who they are.

Closings

The Bear, on Camberwell New Road, will be closing down for six-eight months from this Friday, 10th November as the landlord of the building renovates the upper floors of the building. The team at the Bear say they will definitely be re-opening again next year, and there’ll be a big party there on Friday.

Nape, the wine and charcuterie deli on Church Street, has permanently closed. They’ve said they’ll soon publish news about why they had to do it; I don’t know whether it was trouble with the premises (I know it wasn’t as complete as they wanted it to be), a simple lack of business, or just the difficulty of doing business in Camberwell.

Camberwell Church Street is becoming pretty bare after the closure of Angels & Gypsies, Queen’s, and now Nape. Does the area’s heavy concentration of students make it hard for slightly more expensive dining and drinking spots to keep going? Or is it perhaps with seasonality (it’s quiet in Summer and at Christmas, again because of students)? Is it more to do with the transport links? The A202 running through the middle of it?  Business rates?

Whatever the reason, seems that it’s often a struggle for small businesses to establish themselves here.

Possible Closing and Opening

I can’t comment on this publicly yet, but have been told that it’s likely that another small, popular, recently established business in the area may be closing soon. However, there’s a chance it could appear again in a different venue a little later. Sorry for being so maddeningly vague, I’ll update in future.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

28 thoughts on “Food and Drink News: Openings and Closings”

  1. Camberwell is a really tough market. We are relatively busy and have been here a while now but it’s not easy and margins are tight. It feels like people’s perception of value/cost/offering are getting harder to match. Prices and overheads are going up, but people want to pay less. It’s tough.

  2. I can’t help but feel that the crowdfunded outfits, in particular, perhaps just never had a strong business case in the first place (which may be why they were crowdfunded).

    1. Agree entirely. Running a business is incredibly hard work and it seems to come as a surprise to some young entrepreneurs.

      What happens to crowdfunded money when a place never really gets going and then quickly disappears *cough Queen’s cough*?

    2. Didn’t the Pigeon Hole get set up originally by crowdfunding, and then get sold on to a new owner (who also crowdfunded the purchase)? Something about that rubs me the wrong way a little.

    3. I get what you mean; the owner takes on less risk as they don’t have to take out a loan (or, at least they take on a smaller loan) to start the business, and the funders don’t get any profits or fiscal returns. But people go into crowdfunding knowing that; you get something direct as a response to your donation (could be a t-shirt, free meal, something like that), and they also get to bring into existence a business that they might use regularly and that may not exist at all otherwise.

  3. I thought Nape was nice but a little overpriced. Only went twice when it opened.
    Dammit, I hope The Bear re-opens as its my favourite pub in Camberwell, right combo of good beer and food.
    One my neighbours in my work estate runs a four restaurants in Brixton / Soho / Shoreditch. Chatting with him about the current business confidence / brexit — footfall is down amongst the 2030 somethings with disposable income that make up target market, finding staff is difficult, prices had to be increased, investment has been put on hold. I suspect it’s not just Camberwell thing.

  4. I was going to say, Robbie, the economy is — then a word beginning with f and ending with d. One is upset by the situation. Everything was going so well. We even got used to the upmarketification. Dingy lost its appeal completely.

    The current state of Dulwich Hamlet is interesting, used as a football between Southwark and the developers. It’s such an oddball place — I recommend anyone to go along and check out the atmosphere and characters — the trees alone, it’s just like Tuscany. Soon London will have no odd corners, may as well be Dubai or one of those places, Abu Dhabi.

    I mean, who wants an eccentric football club amongst the releases of apartments? But it is exceptionally colourful and fun — the pink and blue army, you don’t hear that kind of chant everywhere.

    People seem to go there just to meet up and chat, be friendly, human, drink cheery beer from the excellent bar. It’s a whole world away from the A202 up there on the hill.

  5. Does anyone know what happened to Number 67, seamlessly replaced by The Habit a few months back? Anyone who didn’t go often might not even have noticed the changeover.

    Also Daily Goods seems to be more skate shop than café these days.

    Camberwell seems a bit short of places to eat just lately.

    1. AFAIK the manager of No. 67 decided to move on and The Habit team took over. They did announce it, but there wasn’t huge press about it. And yes, Daily Goods have stopped doing hot food, and turned most of their table space over to skating goods. Still doing good coffee, but mostly for takeaway.

  6. Brexit was a democratic vote. You either believe in democracy or you don’t.

    A lot of the doctors interviewed in the New York Times don’t seem to believe in democracy. It’s interesting that they come from countries (Poland, France, Spain) that have a long and appalling history of collaborating with Fascism.

    It seems the Brexit vote will be stymied from going through because too many working class people voted for it. But at least now we know where we stand.

    1. Yes it was a democratic vote, but the final tally was so narrow (52–48) that all it showed was a split country, and in no way an outright desire to leave. More importantly, it was an advisory vote which was not binding on government or parliament. Given those two factors alone, there was certainly no clear mandate to rush ahead and leave the EU without full parliamentary discussion and a vote.

      It’s interesting that you claim opponents of Brexit are against democracy, when proponents would like it passed without parliamentary scrutiny.

      Your insinuation about the doctors and fascist collaborators is beneath discussion.

      I genuinely hope that you don’t have need to rely on the services of the NHS in the near future, as my mother, my wife, and my sister have in recent years. They were extremely well looked after by staff from all around the world, and if those staff and many like them were to leave it will be years before we can get trained replacements.

  7. Ah, I see. We leave it to the politicians to decide whether or not to abide by the result of a democratic vote. Presumably because politicians, being overwhelmingly privately-educated and university-educated, are a much better class of person than your average working man or woman, and thus will be able to make a much more informed and much more enlightened decision than us lesser mortals (i.e. the majority of the British population).

    Got it.

    And by the way, I didn’t vote for Brexit. There are plenty of people, like me, who didn’t vote for Brexit but who are becomingly increasingly enraged by the continual attacks on the working class in this country, to the point of burning us to death in our homes. You are clearly not being informed of this by the mainstream media, so consider this a public service announcement.

    End of.

    1. Of course the question is if the vote had gone the other way by the same margin would the middle classes be chucking their toys out of the pram ? No it would have been reported as a resounding decision to stay and we would have heard no more and carried on as usual.

      I didn’t vote for Brexit either but I certainly do not think that all of those who did are stupid , ignorant or ill informed as being continuously stated in the press. This county has become so divided its something I dont think we will ever recover from and that is down to the press and the likes of Murdoch and friends.

      Nobody expected the result to be Leave but so be it .That’s democracy and there is no going back because you dont like it. Those NHS workers are leaving because, due to the weak pound, they can now earn more in Germany .….its all about the money.

      I have been shocked at how nasty and cruel those who voted to remain can be and also how bullying and aggressive the Eurocrats ( our so called friends ) have been and how the British just take it . If we had another vote I would vote to leave.

    2. You do know there are many types and forms of democracy right? And yes the UK is a representative democracy and it is our politicians who decide on our behalf. So maybe it’s you who doesn’t believe in democracy.
      The nurses and doctors which as you so nicely pointed out as from other European nations as far as I could read were just expressing their disappointment and sadness at being made to feel unwanted by the very people they work so hard to care for.

  8. For people that have worked their nuts off here — for years — to now feel unwelcome is very disappointing. It’s sad for them and us. We can see it on our doorstep. They can see it in New York.

    To equate Brexit to “working class” smells like BS. Most of the Brexit people on TV are Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson types.

    I can see, academically, why people would want to leave (federalist super-state, captured by corporate interests, etc.), but the real-word outcome has been to reveal the British people as unfriendly and uptight. We’ve put more control in the hands of the incompetent and smug British elite. Great news. Thanks for that.

    As for the “beneath discussion” comment. Indeed.

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