One of the little gems in The Gentlemen Baristas crown, our rather wonderful Park Street coffee house is celebrating its fifth birthday today. Formerly the 'Little Dorrit' café and -before that - the Borough Café, there’s been some sort of café on this site since 1831. The site has even appeared in Howards End, a 1992 period romantic drama film, and Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. A welcome diversion from the hustle and bustle of Borough Market - a vibrant community, well known for its relationship with best-in-class food and drink - Park Street wants to thank each and every one of the lovely people who has popped in for some Well-Mannered over the last demi-decade. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Oh babes, I remember being there from the open at 7am and staying until 2am just fixing pieces up and making sure it was perfect. This was my first shop opening as manager, obviously I started in Union St but this was my first time really making a site my own. I was nervous, scared - I didn’t know what future would hold, but seeing the community love and seeing the place grow made it so much fun.
2) What are some of your favourite memories from 5 years at Park Street?
There's so many memories - we're making them every day. Every week holds something new, but it's less about memories, more about the people - they bring us so much joy on a daily basis - when it’s hot they bring fans, when we’re cold they bring blankets - it’s like a family round here. We've seen neighbours falling in love, we've seen people get new jobs, move to new places and still come back. There's just endless memories - we're constantly dancing with regulars in the shop, it's a party every day babes.
3) How much has the area changed in 5 years?
We've had some huge challenges. In our first year there were the terrorist attacks in London Bridge which obviously was a huge hit for the community, and it was a real community effort to readjust. Then we had the first mentions of the situation in Wuhan and before we knew it the lockdown had started. It's felt like constant change - we're continuously overcoming challenges and trying to put ourselves on a good footing. This is the first year everything is on the right course it feels like, so it's onwards and upwards. Throughout it all, our favourite people have always been coming from far and wide, we’re their meeting spot. It means a huge amount that people make that effort and keep us in their hearts like that, it keeps us going.
4) What’s your idea of a coffee house?
Obviously you need a fantastic product in a coffee house, but most important is to create a sense of homeliness; people should be walking into a place that you feel at ease in, you feel welcome in, and the customers and team can both enjoy themselves and have fun. It’s all about great music, great coffee and a sense of love. I wanted to run a place where people leave feeling happier than when they came in. I knew when I started five years ago that I wanted to stay here, nurture the community and watch it grow. I've seen so many faces and kids who have grown up in this community over the past 5 years, it's such a special community.