Locals mourn pop-up style cafe

People relax in the cool surroundings of the Crazy Dog Cafe

People relax in the cool surroundings of the Crazy Dog Cafe - Credit: Archant

A popular cafe in Waterlow Park is being dismantled prompting an outpouring of grief from customers who lined up to pay tribute to its charismatic owner

Michal Szwarczewski established the Crazy Dog Cafe at the back of Lauderdale House in January this year after the establishment closed for building works.

The house is now preparing to re-open and so has called time on the cafe to close its doors.

Run out of a pop-up style hut, it has gained a cult-like status among local residents.

“Michal created a whole community in itself,” said regular Maritta Kaumanns.

She was speaking from the site of the cafe as it was being taken down.

“We’re all in mourning,” she said. “People keep coming over and saying ‘what a loss.’”

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Parents spoke of how they felt safe leaving their children at Crazy Dog and there was, of course, always a bowl of water for thirsty pets. Locals were unanimous that the inclusive atmosphere was only made possible because of Michal’s “boundless energy.”

He has two young children of his own and school friends have got used to calling Waterlow “Anthony’s dad’s park.”

“Somedays we had a full house of kids,” said Michal. “If they don’t have a garden then they come to the park. I had thousands of dogs too.”

Michal had previously run the cafe at Lauderdale House.

He was so popular with customers that when the renovation of the house was announced, a petition was launched to guarantee him the tender of the new facility.

It reached over 1,500 signatures in just a few days but Lauderdale House went with another bidder.

Lauderdale director Katherine Ives said: “I know that some locals will be sad to see Michal go and we are very sorry about that but unfortunately we are a registered charity with commitments and we believe we have made the right decision.

“Michal has been a complete gentleman with everybody.”

“He has catered a number of times for our board members and they appreciate that he is a great chef.” There are rumours that this may not be the end for Crazy Dog.

Michal said he did not want to talk about the future when asked.

Instead, he just wanted to celebrate the past.

“Crazy Dog was good for the park because it increased footfall and it had a menu that you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” said Maritta.

She is not the only regular who holds hope for a similar hut-style cafe in the future.

Sharon Lytton said: “There is a hope that one day in Waterlow Park another hut might appear with Michal’s warm welcome, community spirit and good catering awaiting all who go there.”