OpinioN8

Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

So it looks like Fat Cat Bistro is no more (bailiff sign in the window this morning - doors locked), a mere month after opening - pretty shocking really.

 

With Bouga falling apart week by week, the Rocking Chair Cafe remaining empty and work on the "renovated" Honeymoon completely halted, what on earth is going on, food-wise, in that little strip?

Can anyone shed any light on Bouga, Honeymoon and Fat Cat?

 

Banners, Monkey Nuts and Bar Esteban prove that there's money to be made in the area, but maybe rents are too high for new start ups? If you don't hit the ground running (as Tootoomoo and Esteban did) it looks like your days are numbered.

Tags: Italian, banners, bar esteban, bouga, fat cat, harris hoole, honeymoon, monkey nuts, pizza bella, rocking chair

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Hi All

Thanks for the postings and email.

I have been in to see Mr Hussain a couple of times to follow this up but he was away from the shop each time I called. I have now telephoned and have asked for a return call tomorrow. I hope i can get this rubbish shifted without having to go for Enforcement action.

Will let you know how I get on.

David

Yes agree, I have tried approached agents to rent empty shops for a limited time as a blink pop up gallery but always meet with a brick wall (It's not in agents interest to pass the info onto leaseholders & Martin Gerard said they think a pop up is detrimental to getting a new long term tenant in) if anyone knows any landlords interested in earning a few hundred pounds a week rather than an empty shop costing them money please pass on my details. Thanks Sue Irwin-Hunt 07989 346131 blinkpopup.artsgallery@yahoo.co.uk

What a shame. Your ideal space here would be the empty Rocking Chair Cafe. It's still pretty shiny and well polished and you could pop a coffee machine on the co-unter if needs be. It's also oppsoite the Jealous Gallery and next to Oxfam books, so you'd likely pick up plenty of traffic. Not sure who's dealing, estate agent wise, but it might be worth a go?

As Adrian has suggested - is it worth contacting the Crouch End Project to see if they could help? The email on their website is clare@speakto.co.uk .

I just contacted them though the form on their site, and linked to this discussion. Hopefully they want to get involved. It's madness that a pop up gallery can't get in anywhere. I wonder what the local estate agents would say if they got some pressure on them? Martin Gerard are arrogant to**ers though, they would not even show me houses when I was looking to buy in CE! So i bought via someone else. Obviously. Maybe the others are more helpful, in exchange for some positive local PR perhaps? They're keen enough to sponsor school fairs, so maybe a pop up shop too? Just a though. 

I have elsewhere blogged about a visit to the Fat Cat which was completely amateurish. I am not surprised that it has closed so quickly.

David, thank you for that, that's encouraging. Excited to see what Bouga turns into. Will let you know if not tidied up next week. Result! :)

Seconded - many thanks David! It'll be lovely to see Bouga restored. It's been falling apart for a good long while now.

Hi David, 

walked past yesterday, Sunday, and nothing has been done, so the owner has been bulls***ting you big time I think. Would you mind contacting him again and asking him why he's not doing what he said he'd do? 

What role does the Crouch End Project play in all of this - councillors can only help within the framework of the law - it's up to the businesses to be entrepreneurial

I've tried contacting them to encourage them to post here. Let's see. 

I'm new to this forum, but I can provide some information on the situation in Park Road, and for retailers in Crouch End in general.

I am a chartered surveyor (specialising in retail properties), and I live in Crouch End. Also this post is of special interest to me because my girlfriend started her own business on Park Road last October, it is called Spa Elements, and it is a wonderful place to get a fantastic massage, and buy lovely natural and organic health and beauty products. Apologies for the shameless plug, now for the information, sorry its a bit long winded.

 

There are 2 main problems facing new and existing businesses on Park Road and elsewhere:

- The rents being charged by the landlords are very high due to the success of the shops in the main part of the Broadway. The landlords set the rent of the shops based on what other tenants are prepared to pay for shops. So, when new affluent retailers move to Crouch End (Oliver Bonas and Harris + Hoole), one of the by-products is an increase in the rent that landlords try to charge for their empty shops.

- The other major problem is the ridiculously high level of Business Rates that are being charged by Haringey Council (and all other councils) for these empty shops. For example, who ever takes over Bouga will have to pay approx. £17,500 per year in business rates in addition to the £40,000 per year rent that the landlord was asking for.

The combination of these issues means that it is nigh on impossible for independent retailers to start a business in a high street like Crouch End. The capital required is so high that without massive savings it really is impossible to start a business on the high street, especially because the banks are still not lending to businesses. Unless you have an established, profitable business, the banks simply are not lending to small businesses or start-ups because the risk is too high.

 

About some of the restaurants mentioned previously:

Fat Cat - We were one of the few who actually managed to eat there before it closed - the food was a bit rough and amateur but I believe it had every chance of success if it had been allowed to build up trade, especially because one of our friends had just been hired as head chef, and she is an amazing chef. However, the reason it closed is all down to the landlord. It is clear from the notice in the window that the tenants did not pay their rent. There are a lot of options available to a landlord if a tenant does not pay their rent - the last resort is to use bailiffs to secure the property and throw the tenants out, as was the case here. I don't know the landlord but it does seem like cutting off your nose to spite your face to repossess the property just days after it opens for business. I really don't understand why the landlord could not come to a payment plan arrangement with the tenant, that way both landlord and tenant get some money, instead of both of them losing out by keeping the restaurant closed.

Rocking Chair Cafe - The tenants were some nice Czech people who were a bit naive about business. The food and coffee was pretty good, but service was a bit slow, and in the competitive environment of being a coffee shop in Crouch End they were unable to keep up. But the main problem was that they simply did not realise about Business rates - they thought business rates were the same as council tax. In fact business rates are roughly 10 X the level of council tax.

Bouga and Honeymoon: I dont have any specific information on these properties, although I know they were being advertised at around £40,000 and £47,000 per year rent, which are very high rents for anyone except the most established of high street names. I wait with interest what will become of both, but in the case of Bouga I've already been waiting for 3 years.

 

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