Out with Cafe Hampstead... in comes Oak & Poppy

Owner Mitch Tillman outside what will be Oak & Poppy in the old Cafe Hampstead

Owner Mitch Tillman outside what will be Oak & Poppy in the old Cafe Hampstead - Credit: Polly Hancock

A Hampstead restauranteur is reopening the former Rosslyn Arms as an “all-day dining” venue. 

Most recently occupied by Cafe Hampstead, Oak & Poppy is aiming to welcome customers in spring next year.  

It will be run by First Restaurant Group, whose owner Mitch Tillman still lives in NW3 having grown up in the neighbourhood.  

The 46-year-old said the new venture, hatched during lockdown, is aiming to mirror the former House on Rosslyn Hill which he regularly visited around 25 years ago.

“That’s really what I’m going to try to bring back with Oak & Poppy – somewhere for all-day dining that you can hopefully have a great breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Mitch said. 

“It will be a really nice place to be... quite modern, light and airy.” 

The restauranteur’s hospitality firm runs six venues in London including The Waterway in Little Venice.  

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The Hampstead opening joins a recent renaissance of local pubs including the Magdala Tavern.  

The Old White Bear is also set to welcome punters once again, and so too the Old Bell of Hampstead at the former Cork and Bottle. 

“I’m really excited,” Mitch said. “I’m not someone who thinks competition is bad. Quite the opposite, you should have more places because it then makes an area a destination.  

“Hampstead is an area that is just great and vibrant and full of lots of different styles and types of venues, so I think the more the merrier.” 

The owner said the new site would sit somewhere between a pub, restaurant and bar – “a bit of everything”.  

He said the venue would have a floral theme and be welcoming for all groups including families and women.  

“Hampstead is a really lovely village,” the businessman said. “The last thing we want is somewhere you get lots of people coming and drinking and it not feel welcoming.  

“I want anybody to feel they could come in on their own, whether man or woman or whoever you are. You could come as a group of ladies, or bring your grandmother there for her birthday.”

"We want to bring something great to Hampstead"

"We want to bring something great to Hampstead" - Credit: Polly Hancock

Cafe Hampstead, the previous occupants, shut down in 2019 after owing hundreds of thousands of pounds to creditors. 

“We’ve taken everything from Cafe Hampstead that was left there and it has been ripped out,” Mitch said. 

“There's not one bit of Cafe Hampstead that we're using. It's a complete, complete makeover.”