Indies thriving as council refuses pizza chain

The staff at Brown's cafe pride themselves on great coffee pic: Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill

Independent cafes selling fresh produce in Honor Oak Park continue to thrive, while plans for a new pizza restaurant in the area have been rejected by the council and citizens alike.



Domino’s Pizza were refused permission for a change of use of the Old Bank restaurant in Honor Oak.

In response to the pizza chain’s planning application, Lewisham Council wrote: “The proposed change of use from a restaurant to a hot food takeaway would result in a lost opportunity to provide a use which would maximise the prominent, corner location… compromising the objectives of maintaining the vitality and vibrancy.”

Local residents agreed. “We don’t need another big chain pushing food of questionable nutritional value, but one that draws people into the high street,” said blogger ‘Brockley Nick’.

The move highlights the shift in spending habits that has coincided with, and seemingly been spurred on by, the economic downturn, with sales figures on the rise for indepedent establishments in the area.

Brockley, an area described by the local community as ‘the Paris of South-East London’ has seen four new independently-owned cafes open since the start of the so-called ‘credit crunch’. The latest addition to the area is ‘Pistachios’ in Hilly Fields.

The Toad’s Mouth was the first cafe of its kind in Lewisham when it opened its doors nine years ago. “When we started out, the only other places to get breakfasts were greasy spoons,” the manager said.

“People didn’t know what a latte was. They said that £1.40 for a large coffee was extravagant. Café culture has changed so much.”

Will Riley, 22, opened Browns, a Brockley coffee shop two years ago after graduating from Goldsmiths. Will started his business during the recession and credits the quality of the products with its continued success.

“We make all our cakes in our kitchen over the road,” he said. “We have pizza nights too, but all the pizzas are made by local company, Homeslice, which only uses the highest quality ingredients.

“The coffee is so refined that if you filled a bottle of wine with it, that volume would be worth £70.”

Twenty-three-year-old Tom O’Neill, a barman at The Orchard on Harefield Road, has been shocked by the venue’s renowned success: “We opened on this site two years ago, and we’ve never been busier.

“If the economy dips again, things might change, but for the time being people are definitely placing good food high on the agenda.”

The new Brockley Market has been supplying the community with locally-sourced seasonal fresh fruit, vegetables, award-winning coffee and artisan bread.


  1. Jimmy November 25, 2011
  2. Sophie December 1, 2011

Leave a Reply