High Street Update: UPDATED

Well, Twickenham, it doesn’t seem that long ago since we did a High Street update on here does it? That’s because it isn’t. It’s just two weeks in fact. But things have been busy, busy, busy so we thought we’d sneak in another one. Just for fun, like. (The last one’s here btw).

Sign at Belmont Bakery

Belmont Gone? One of Twickenham’s longer running businesses appears to be no more. We’re talking Belmont Bakery with shops on Queen’s Road and Heath Road. The place has been looking distinctly closed for a week now and that “closed for a couple of days” is sign looking increasingly permanent. Whether the closure is indeed permanent or just temporary it’s a shame. But Belmont did have something of the 1970s about it and perhaps that is (or was) part of the problem: lots of white bread, meringues, Chelsea buns and gingerbread men. All have their place, but only some of the time and sometimes back in time. In September the Twickenham Town Centre Manager ruffled a few feathers by calling for a high quality baker in the town. Many leapt forward to say we already had one in the form of Belmont. We suggested a compromise whereby Belmont should simply stick the word ‘artisan’ in front of its products and charge an extra 50p a loaf. Flippant perhaps but Belmont didn’t seem to make much headway in tapping into the Farmers Market / Laverstoke / Patisserie Valerie foodie vibe brewing up in Twickenham. Perhaps trying to compete with both the supermarkets and the more upmarket specialists left Belmont fighting on two fronts. And now what? If Belmont has gone, we’ve two more empty shops to fill.



Elsewhere…
On December 6th The Fox on Church Street will re-open after its major refurb. It’s one of the best pubs in Twickenham so let’s hope they’ve done a great with the building work over the last few months. Meanwhile, The GarryOwen on London Road has changed its name yet again. It’s now The London Road Bar.

The Gurkha’s Inn on York Street is almost ready to open and a little further along it looks as if Twickenham will be getting a spanking new Vietnamese restaurant going by the name of Pho Saigon. It’s getting right royal cosmopolitan along that stretch of road, innit?

We hear ABC Pharmacy on King Street is disappearing but re-appearing in a new spot just around the corner on Cross Deep, re-branded as Day Lewis, a chain of independent pharmacists. Also on King Street, the little Tutto Buono cafe between Bu’Sen and the Scope charity shop has closed. We reckon we probably have enough cafes in Twickenham for the time being.

Marc Jason’s Shoeworld on Heath Road is now open, for all your cheap footwear requirements. Ummm. We’re a bit surprised by that addition to our High Street but if it works, it works.

Remember all those good times in Wineland Taverna? Or Kaswani? Or Nights of Tehran? Or even Pablo’s? No? We’re not that surprised because you probably never went. All have occupied the same spot on Heath Road and, it’s fair to say, none of them ever looked especially busy. Well, the place is now being refurbed again and this time it’s going to be an Italian restaurant. The sign says “Unique Italian“. Whether that’s going to be the name or just a description of the food, we’ll have to wait and see. Suggestions made on Twitter that the location is cursed and that an underground passage links it to La Serenata on London Road are totally without substance…. or are they? UPDATE: It’s going to be called da Vinci.

And just over the road, the South African Biltong store has closed. Moved to Kingston says the sign. Now who’d go and do a thing like that?

And finally…
Its good to see the local businesses working together to promote themselves. The Twickenham Town Business Association has launched a new website. And guess what, you can find it at www.ttba.org.uk.

The previous Update is here. Or just look at the right hand index.

27 Comments

Filed under High Street Updates

27 responses to “High Street Update: UPDATED

  1. Stephen Doughty

    I am Steve who owned Belmont bakery until I closed it due to cancer which I am fighting very hard as I type. In fact I was still involved in Twickenham without a mention as I put all the flag pole holders up and paid for them not the town centre management or council. Not a word of thanks from anyone.

    Dick worked for me until his sadly died as my Bread Dough Mixer. He never had any books as he worked from my recipe sheets which were produced by computer every day. He was a lovely man

    Steve

    You can E-Mail me stephendoughty@gmail.com

    [Twickerati edit: this comment combines two related posts into one]

  2. Hello. I’m wondering if you can help me. My grandfather used to work at Belmont Bakery. Unfortunately, he died suddently one evening as he was about to leave for work. Sadly, after his death we all forgot about his work locker. In which, were all of his handwritten recipe books. I’m desperate to locate them. I’m hoping someone may have kept them. I’m wondering if you can confirm if the Belmont Bakery did indeed close, and if so when. And if any of your readers happen to know who owned it back in 2001? Thank you so much.
    Here’s a little background on the wonderful man http://ahumblehousewife.com/2012/08/26/simnel-cakes-my-inspiration/

  3. John, Twickenham

    I enjoyed my meal at Pho Saigon the other night, although I felt the staff could have been a bit warmer. The food’s good and cheap and for two quid corkage you can bring your own wine. Recommended!

  4. Pho Saigon is a gem. I have been there about 8 times since it opened and it never fails to dissapoint. Tasty food, very reasonably priced, happy and helpful waiter. Happy to see it doing so well, they deserve it.

  5. John

    Went to The Gurkha Inn with a mate the other day and was very disappointed. We ordered different chicken dishes but both came looking and tasting identical. The colour was bright orange, and they were served in korais which were on wooden blocks (OK) which were then placed on a hotplate (???) Didn’t finish the food (which was pretty mediocre) and they knocked 20% off the bill without us even asking. A pretty ” nepalling ” experience and we won’t be back.

  6. Anonymous

    saw the new itailian that has been mentioned in the article on 26th November suggesting it would be the ultimate Italian – now called “Da Vinci” today – anyone been there yet – would love a recommendation

    • Neelam Wilson

      Ordered an Americana pizza for delivery from them last night and it was very good, will be going back for sure. Their pizzas are cooked in a wood fired oven and this gave the pizza a really authentic taste. It is a shame that every time I walk by it is always empty.

    • V

      The prices and food are really good and the staff are really friendly – defintily our new favourite Italian place!!

  7. Boss

    Belmont’s decline looks pretty terminal now. And unfortunately Shoeworld is making Poundland look upmarket.

  8. Ed Randall

    Rather than speculate, I emailed Belmonts last Monday (21st Nov) and asked them when they thought they would be re-opening, the answer was hopefully by Saturday (26th) or if not early this week.

  9. Simon H

    Arthur’s is something of a cut above, though. But there are other places, they open and I think “you’ll be shut in six months” and they almost always are.

    • Unfortunately I’ve been disappointed every time I went to Arthur. I love supporting local businesses and avoid chains so I keep trying every year or so but sadly I’m still waiting to have a good experience of their food/wine. I liked their riverside outlet unfortunately it was forced to close and the replacement from the borough is terrible in term of quality and service.

  10. Simon H

    I’ve just counted up (in my head, for fun…) how many restaurants, cafes, pubs that do food and fast-food outlets there in Twickenham between Marble Hill, Squires garden centre, the Thames and the A316. There are 66. Sixty bleddy six!
    And that’s not including competition from Teddington, St Margarets, Richmond et al.
    Given that most of these establishments are almost permanently near-empty, am I the only one who thinks SW London’s businessman have quite literally gone mad? W

    • Anonymous

      When we were making our business plan for Arthurs in 1993 there were 15 restaurants in the vicinity, many on Church Street, and yes including La Serenata. We did a head count on random lunch and dinner service (from standing outside and looking in!) to try to persuade the bank manager that the demand was there in Twickenham. In the following 17 years literally hundreds have opened, closed, changed hands. Most of the pubs now serve food and the competition between restaurants is fierce. It’s a tough business but you’ve got to love it to keep in there. Twickenham customers are brilliant and keep us on our toes. Looking forward to trying the new Vietnamese restaurant though.

  11. RG

    Still lacking in Mexican…now that would be fab!

    Fingers crossed that Belmonts hasn’t gone for good as they do the best iced buns 🙂

  12. Yvonne Hewett

    I do hope this closing is a temporary blip and doesn’t mean the end of Belmont. We’ve been buying their wholemeal for more years than I care to remember. The quality’s always been consistent and the people are really nice.

  13. TedF

    There’s quite a large Vietnamese community down around Hampton so it’ll be interesting to see if they’ll make the journey up to Twickers for a good Vietnamese restaurant. If there’s one thing guaranteed to pull in the punters in a restaurant serving “foreign food”, it’s a window chock-full of the right foreigners!

  14. twickerman

    A Vietnamese restaurant….now Twickenahm’s really going places. I can’t wait to try a hot steamy bowl of pho. Bring it on!

    • Fourth Crosser

      Just been to Pho Saigon for lunch. Properly authentic, delicious, nice people – and cheap enough. It deserves to do well.

    • twickerperson

      I tried Pho Saigon last week and had a mixed experience:
      -the restaurant was cold
      -almost all the tempting fish and seafood options on the menu had been crossed out.
      -the pho with sirloin was authentic and delicious
      -the grilled squid starter was tasty, but microscopic in size
      -I asked if they did expresso coffee, and when advised ‘yes’, ordered one. I was surprised to be delivered a glass cup wth a filter on it. The cup was very cold and the filter dripped so slowly that I ended up with a tasty but chilled coffee. If it had been marketed as ‘iced coffee’ I might have been impressed!
      I’ll go back, but just for a bowl of Pho, without the trimmings.

    • Anonymous

      You had authentic Vietnamese coffee – admittedly they should have done something to heat up the cup though

    • Pho Saigon serves authentic and tasty food. The staff are very pleasant and my 2 visits so far have both been a success. The prices are reasonable and I hope they get enough regular business to buck the recent trend of restaurant closures. Certainly looks like a good start and I wish them well. A good addition to Twickenham eateries.