Cafe owner builds pop-up hot drinks kiosk as Lauderdale House building works officially begin
PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 December 2015
Builders have officially moved in to begin the long-awaited £2.3million refurbishment of historic Lauderdale House.
The works, which began in earnest last week, leave Highgate without its treasured arts and education hub until next summer.
But one man has made it his mission to ensure visitors to the village can still enjoy a hot drink and a bite to eat in the 16th-century mansion’s rolling grounds – by building a wooden kiosk from scratch to serve as a pop-up cafe.
Michal Szwarczewski, who ran Lauderdale’s permanent cafe before the house closed to the public in September, decided to build a temporary hut when his regulars told him they were devastated at the prospect of losing a place to eat and drink in Waterlow Park.
“People miss having some kind of beverage place in the park,” said the 44-year-old, of Highgate. “It’s left a big hole in their lives.”
It took Mr Szwarczewski four days of gruelling hard labour to build the wooden hut, and he is still putting on the finishing touches.
Aside from a little help from passers by and volunteers, the father-of-two has done all the work himself.
He said: “I didn’t want it to be like a builder’s plastic hut with metal windows. I know this is a building site now but I wanted something that looks nice for the park.”
The kiosk, to be called the Green D’Vine Cafe, is due to open within the next two weeks, selling coffee, home-made cakes and snacks.
Lauderdale House director Katherine Ives said: “The kiosk looks like something out of Hansel and Gretel – almost a wooden gingerbread house, just in time for Christmas.”
Hoardings were erected at the historic house last week and the office team have moved into the Waterlow Park Centre, where they will remain until the grand re-opening next year.
Building firm Rooff has taken on the Lauderdale Transformed project, providing it with modern facilities, a glass-roofed atrium and state-of-the-art learning centre.
The house still needs to find nearly £240,000 to finish off the refurbishment project. Linklaters law firm donated £10,000 recently.
A fundraising jazz concert with musician Ian Shaw takes place at Dyne House on December 16. Book tickets at lauderdalehouse.co.uk.