Search

‘Outraged’ Hampstead creatives ‘reassured’ coffee shop hours will stay the same

08:00 21 August 2014

Customers outside the café at Kenwood House. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Customers outside the café at Kenwood House. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Archant

Kenwood House bosses have reassured “outraged” customers there will be no change to its café’s opening hours when a luxury caterer takes over the historic eatery.

"I drop my kids off at school and walk down over the Heath to the café. If it opens at 10am, what am I going to do for an hour?"

Historian Dr Helen Fry

Dog walkers finishing early morning strolls on Hampstead Heath and mothers returning from the school-run were left reeling by news that the café would open an hour later each day under the new administration, meaning they would have to wait until 10am to get their morning coffee.

The Brewhouse Café is also a favourite haunt of local creatives – bestselling spy novelist John le Carré is often seen scribbling away at a table – and it was feared the move would stunt the creativity of musicians, academics and writers who work there.

But when contacted by the Ham&High, English Heritage, which manages Kenwood, insisted the rumours were unfounded.

It said that prestigious caterers Searcys is set to take over the running of the café, which is also frequented by Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson, but would not change the opening hours.

Alex Sydney, head of English Heritage’s historic properties in London, said: “There are no plans to make any immediate changes and certainly no plans to change the opening times at the moment.

“I would like to reassure regular Brewhouse customers that both English Heritage and Searcys will work hard to ensure a smooth transition for everyone concerned.”

Historian Dr Helen Fry, who writes all her books in the café, was dismayed by the rumours.

“Everyone was outraged,” she said. “There’s a whole cluster of us who use it early. It would be devastating for us creatives. It’s a very literary, artistic space – it’s different from any other café.

“It has the quiet and the stillness that allows you to think about the project you’re working on. I drop my kids off at school and walk down over the Heath to the café. If it opens at 10am, what am I going to do for an hour?”

William Keegan, the Observer’s senior economics commentator, said: “I get all my ideas for columns and books in the café. I write my thoughts down on the back of the receipts they give you for coffee. It’s a tremendous routine!”

Jazz guitarist John Etheridge, who walks to the café most mornings from his home in South End Green, said: “There’s a lot of trade before 10am. I think it would be a rather foolish decision.

“We have a morning club of regulars who read the papers and have breakfast. I had breakfast with Doris Lessing up there and that was a breakfast to remember. Only in Hampstead could that happen!”

Searcys, which runs restaurants and bars at St Pancras International station, Blenheim Palace and the Barbican Centre, will take charge of the café from long-serving caterer Company of Cooks on October 1.

Following confirmation of the takeover, English Heritage published new opening hours on its website.

It is understood a member of English Heritage staff at Kenwood also confirmed to a regular customer that the café would open from 10am to 5pm under Searcys, rather than the current 9am to 6pm opening hours.

But an English Heritage spokesman insisted the changes to the website were a “human error” and would be amended.

Company of Cooks founder Mike Lucy said: “Of course I’m disappointed that our 18 years at Kenwood could not continue but as an independent business we simply were not prepared to match the financial bid from Searcys for the new contract.

“We’ve had 18 great years, we’ll be having a great party.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:32
Jude Rogers impressed Tim Peake on board the International Space Station

An entrepeneurial pupil had his film broadcast to Tim Peake on the International Space Station – and was invited to Downing Street to welcome the astronaut home.

Yesterday, 11:25
A Highgate resident believes this unwelcome visitor may have beeen attracted by overflowing bins

Nearly half of Camden residents face having their weekly rubbish collections reduced to fortnightly from next April under radical proposals designed to save the council £5 million and “incentivise recycling”.

Two diners were injured in the accident involving an unmarked police car   pictures: Emily Banks

Diners at Pizza East restaurant in Highgate Road were injured when an unmarked police car on an emergency call was in collision with another car .

Mon, 18:35
Geography teacher Kato Harris wept as a jury cleared him of all charges

A Geography teacher has told of the “massive stress” of being accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old pupil in the classroom of his Camden school.

Mon, 17:45
Nearly 4,000 pupils were excluded for reasons including racist abuse and sexual misconduct across Camden, Haringey and Barnet. Picture: PA

Racist abuse, sexual misconduct and drug and alcohol offences – these are some of the reasons why nearly 4,000 Camden, Haringey and Barnet pupils were excluded from schools last year.

Mon, 17:37
Kato Harris, has been cleared of  three counts of rape

A geography teacher wept today after a jury took just 26 minutes to clear him of repeatedly raping a pupil in a classroom at a Camden school.

Mon, 15:45
Islington Square Show Apartment

Interior designers Amos and Amos have created a hyper local show home featuring only furniture and accessories they sourced from shops on Upper Street

Mon, 15:12
Restoration work begins in the theatre at Alexandra Palace. Photo: Polly Hancock

The Park and Palace Trust launch a one million pound fundraising campaign to support the theatre’s restoration.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now