Parliament Hill Lido Café on 'heartwarming' business life in Hampstead Heath
- Credit: Polly Hancock
“We’ve got our swimmers, our movie stars, our dog walkers, the local schools... it's become a really nice little hub of the community.”
From selling falafels to butcher’s bacon to tagine, Parliament Hill Lido Café has come to establish itself as a firm favourite of Hampstead Heath regulars.
Serving swimmers both poolside and Heathside, the café is run by Queen’s Crescent couple Emma Fernandez and Patrick Matthews as part of their London catering company Hoxton Beach.
During the pandemic the business chipped in to support the area it had come to know and love as home – with food parcels provided to local residents and the Whittington Hospital.
This connection between the café and the community has left the owners – who set up the lido business in 2017 – excited for the summer, and with a strengthened appreciation for their café.
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“It’s amazing, we love it,” Emma told the Ham&High.
“We've got great collaboration with the lifeguards and the people who run the pool.
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“It's amazing, we love working in parks and swimming pools and things like that. We love the outdoors, we love everything to do with it. It’s a really nice environment to work in.
“During the lockdown we stayed open for takeaway and we also did some home deliveries.
“We really could see that sometimes we were the only people who the locals who we delivered to were speaking to in the whole day, and it was making such a difference to them.
“It's really heartwarming to work in the middle of such a supportive community.”
Hoxton Beach runs five other London cafés – in Highgate Wood, Queen’s Park, London Fields, Clissold Leisure Centre and Clapton.
It has a bakery in Homerton under the railway arches where it makes fresh bread and pastries for its Grade II-listed Parliament Hill home.
Dishes of the day – including laksa noodle soup and sesame chicken – are made on-site with fresh fruit and vegetables sourced from Spitalfields and Covent Garden night markets.
Having moved to the UK from France 10 years ago, Emma’s culinary roots inspired her to bring an épicerie-style along with crepes to the Heath, which she said have proved popular.
For more information about Parliament Hill Lido Café visit https://phflido.hoxtonbeach.com/
June 29 is the 150th anniversary of the Act of Parliament which preserved Hampstead Heath for generations - to celebrate by sharing your memories of the Heath with us, write to firstname.lastname@example.org