Future uncertain for award nominated cafe

Photo: Anna Haswell

A popular New Cross café which has been shortlisted for a local business award is unsure how much longer it can remain in business.

Café Crema, located on New Cross Road, is in the running for the ‘Environmental’ category of Lewisham Council’s annual Business Awards.

Chris Boddington, who owns the café jointly with his wife, said he was happy to have made the shortlist. “I’m very pleased about it, and I believe you can win five grand, so that’d be handy,” he said.

However, the café cannot currently guarantee its long-term survival.

“At the moment our landlords, who are Goldsmiths College, could give us 3 months’ notice at any time. We don’t have a secure lease,” explained Boddington. “We’ve had a longer lease before, but because they’re undecided about the future of this building, they’re not giving us any definite answer.”

This precarious situation is partly due to questions about the safety of the building, part of a small row of dilapidated houses. The university, which owns a number of other buildings in central New Cross – including Deptford Town Hall – is also hoping to stimulate regeneration of the area.

According to its recently published ‘Masterplan,’ Goldsmiths wants to ‘create a permeable campus with visibility of key activities and functions integrated into the local community’.

These plans include the intention to ‘create active reuse for shops on New Cross Road, with student services and academic retail’. It remains unclear whether these plans include allowing Café Crema to continue trading in their current premises.

Boddington believes that Crema is well positioned to contribute to the area’s regeneration. He said: “I do like to think that we’re one of the more attractive aspects of New Cross – not that New Cross isn’t a lovely area. From what our customers tell us – obviously most of our customers are Goldsmiths students, and a fair amount of Goldsmiths staff – they seem to think that we’re quite important in this area. They would like us to continue.”

The ‘Environmental’ prize is intended to reward ‘the business that has gone to an exceptional length to make its practices sustainable and to help the local environment’. According to Boddington, sustainability is a vital part of Café Crema’s business model.

He said: “It’s just how we operate. We do a lot of recycling. The amount of rubbish we create is only about one carrier bag’s worth every day, so the vast majority of our waste is either recycled or composted.”

The awards scheme aims to give recognition to distinctive and well-loved businesses in the borough. Other categories include ‘Community Involvement’, ‘Best New Company’ and, for teenage entrepreneurs, ‘The Young Lewisham Apprentice’.

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