Community Cafe and Lounge

In the summer this year we applied for listed building consent and planning permission in order to run a community cafe in the Hub.  The exciting news is that permission was granted and we are now awaiting permission from Lambeth Council to co-ordinate the plumbing and electrical works to enable the fit out of the cafe servery.

This is a significant step as it allows us to move from an idea and aspiration, that’s been around for a while, into something that can be delivered.  Excitingly this permission also enables us to run a popup cafe for mornings in December to serve coffee of course, but also to test out the concept and get feedback of what the community would like to see in the cafe.  Please come and visit us.

What’s Planned

The large room on the right as you come in has long been ringfenced for a future cafe.  Those of you who know the Carnegie Library building will know that this room is very large indeed so provides a wonderful opportunity for the Hub, library and community.  The room will be soft partitioned down the middle with one end being a community cafe and the other a community lounge.

A cafe has long been discussed for the Carnegie Library.  As long ago as 2015 there was an independently compiled community consultation which discussed inclusion of a cafe.  A cafe scored in the top quartile of proposed Hub services, with the most popular being on the ground floor accompanying the existing library.  A decade later we finally have a nascent Hub with an ever-growing list of partnerships, events and services and the necessary infrastructure and permission to fit out a cafe servery.

The Hub considers the inclusion of a cafe as pivotal to our success in delivering our objectives. The cafe will contribute to our community offering but is far more important than just the financial return it will generate.  The opportunity with the cafe is what it will facilitate in the Hub.  It will encourage various Hub clients to lengthen their visits and use more of the facilities on offer, attract more partnerships and provide a focal point for meeting in the Hub that is more suitable for gatherings than the library itself.

There is a varied future local clientele already; library visitors enjoy a drink whilst reading, hub users meet before a class, gym customers after a workout, dog walkers from Ruskin Park picking up a coffee, numerous primary school drop off or pickup opportunities, or simply the community who want a warm and welcome place to come and sit.  The community cafe provides an interesting opportunity to cater to a diverse client base and develop a market for food and drink that can help our Hub get busier… and with footfall will come further opportunities for community rooted events and services.

Through an open tender process in 2022, the Hub invited numerous local cafes to submit proposals for a community cafe and the Trust selected Sweet Carolina of West Norwood from several competing local businesses.  We received excellent proposals overall, and shortlisted Sweet Carolinas proposal as strongest in a number of areas such as experience, food provision and community response.

The listed building consent design, sponsored by Sweet Carolina, encapsulates a simple servery counter which embodies heritage aspects, with notes from the buildings glorious Edwardian origins, whilst offering it up in a fresh and uncomplicated way that will be welcoming to all ages and the diverse community we wish to serve.

Community Cafe

Community Lounge

The Community Lounge is proposed to be a food and drink welcome space where the community and Hub visitors can come and sit for a variety of reasons:

  1. For a space to sit and relax after purchasing food or drink from the Community Cafe.
  2. For library users to use as a breakout space for reading, work or homework during their library visit.
  3. For Hub user congregation — the Hub has multiple clients and partnerships aligning with Learning, Wellness, Events, Leisure and Work and the lounge is designed as the area for visitors to gather before and after activities.
  4. For an informal co-working space that provides social interaction and WiFi access.
  5. The Community Lounge may be booked free of charge at certain times of day by local community groups.
  6. For a welcoming meeting/congregation point for visitors to Ruskin Park.
  7. For parents and their children to spend time and relax both before and after school drop-off/pickup. There are several primary schools in the area.

The uses outlined above are just indicative of the many ways in which a Community Lounge will serve the local neighbourhood and residents.

The Community Lounge will be separated from the Cafe by a soft partition of furniture. This is being done to ensure that users of the Community Lounge do not feel obliged to make a purchase to use the space, and to indicate that the space is open to all, not just Community Cafe customers.

Crowd Funding

In order to fund construction of a cafe we plan to offer a crowd funding opportunity to the community to enable us to finance the fitout and also increase the links and engagement we have from the community.  The funding opportunities will likely be in the form of vouchers for cafe products such as coffees or meals.  We will be providing more details of the opportunity as soon as we have accurate cost estimates for the design.  In the meantime, we invite anyone who could be interested in supporting this venture to launch, with the promise of an excellent visit when built, please fill in our community cafe crowd funding form.

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