Cafe culture booming
Robyn Rosen and Sam Gauntlett AS the economy continues to spiral downwards, there is one industry which is thriving on locals seeking a comfortable place where they can relax with a warm cup of coffee and a natter. Coffee shops and cafes across Muswell Hi
Robyn Rosen and Sam Gauntlett
AS the economy continues to spiral downwards, there is one industry which is thriving on locals seeking a comfortable place where they can relax with a warm cup of coffee and a natter.
Coffee shops and cafes across Muswell Hill and Crouch End appear to be defying the recession with reports of booming business.
Hassan Mounti, owner of the Honeycombe in Broadway Parade, said: "We've been here since 1991 - the last recession. It was really hard because we were a new business.
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"But now, we don't feel it so much because we are established. Our regulars are still coming in. We are not a fancy restaurant, we are a coffee shop, so people can still afford to come for a coffee for �1.50."
Chris Ostwald, owner of Crocodile Cafe in Muswell Hill Broadway, said: "The sales have increased on last year.
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"At the beginning of the year, we decided that other shops didn't have a child-friendly aspect to them so we had a new decking area and child's play area and we have had an amazing response.
"There's a feel good factor to coffee shops - a coffee and piece of cake makes you feel better and doesn't cost a fortune."
Ali Benammar, owner of Coffee Cake, in Broadway Parade, said that he couldn't see much evidence of a recession.
"You can't stop yourself from having a coffee and something to eat," he said. "You've got to have some kind of joy in your life.
"Psychologically people feel fear. Many people have the same income but they are afraid. The government want money to circulate. That's not going to happen if people stay at home and have their coffee."
Simon Hart, manager of Cafe Nero in Muswell Hill Broadway, added: "In Muswell Hill, and the surrounding areas also, there is an amazing sense of community. Having worked in this coffee shop for several months now, I have noticed how much the local community enjoy meeting each other for lunch or gossip at one of the area's local coffee shops.
"I believe it is the variety - both local independent coffee shops and global chains - that makes Muswell Hill so unique."
And customers are enjoying their caffeine fix more now than ever.
Simon Connolly, a 36-year-old actor from Crouch End Hill, and Starbucks regular, said: "As opposed to restaurants, it's cheap. It's a nice atmosphere.
"They generally have some music on in the background. People are sitting reading, or working on laptops.
"It's a living room away from your own living room.
"Because I'm an actor, I get the odd day off and it's nice to get out of the house. It's nice to have a change of scenery."
Geoffrey Eberhard, 61 from Bounds Green, said: "It's like the American Friends culture - they may not go out to a posh restaurant anymore, but they still meet friends for coffee.