It’s been a while hasn’t it? Some would say too long. Others might say it’s not been long enough since our last high street update. We’ve not been totally idle though, because we’ve published our Twickenham mega-shopping list which indexes the 220+ retail outlets in central and west Twickenham and discusses the future of shopping in the town. We’re certainly not short of retail space although some of the shops listed certainly appear short of customers. But there are success stories too. Have a look and have your say on the Twickenham retail experience and on the likely winners and losers. The link is below. In the meantime, here’s a quick update on what’s going down on the mean streets of ‘Nam.
JoJoLoo cafe and “mini-super” on Heath Road has closed. Open for less than year, it’s a shame when small businesses close but you have to think that this one was never really going to work. There’s no shortage of cafes and convenience stores in the area and another small one of each was always going to find it hard to carve out a share of the market.
Halfords on King Street could be about to close, turned into two units and be replaced by a Costa Coffee in one and something else in another. A charity shop perhaps?? See the comments section for more information on this. An eagle eyed reader spotted the premises on a commercial property website accompanied by the warning that staff were not aware of the building being put up to let. Would a national retail chain and a letting agent really make a mistake like that? Who knows.
You want coffee? You’ll get coffee. In addition to the Costa above we were tipped off by @mrscarolineh on Twitter that the former Clintons shop is to become a Harris + Hoole coffee shop. And guess what? On their website they even use the words “artisan coffee” in an apparently unironic way. Although essentially a family affair, Tesco now hold a stake in H+H, which means there’s a bit of clout behind those artisan coffee beans.
The same tweet also alerted us to the demise of Bathrooms4All on York Street. The national chain has gone into administration and the Twickenham store is now closed. Will the administators be able to salvage any kind of viable business? Will the Twickenham store re-open? It certainly never looked like a candidate for long term roaring success – a large retail space selling bathrooms in a town centre dominated by coffee shops, charity shops and stores selling ‘essentials’ – but we could be wrong.
O’Zon has become O’Gone. The (mostly) Chinese restaurant has been around for a few years but seems to be yet another place to fall prey to the economic climate. Some people loved it but here at twickerati HQ the view is that when it came to takeaways, it started off really well but then became distinctly average. What’s your view?
We’ve also heard that Din’s Grill on York Street has now closed.
Milestone Commercial have tipped us off (below) that Reuben’s Bakehouse will be opening at 54 Heath Road (used to be the South African shop). We’re talking wood burning oven, proper bread, a top baker – it all sounds good and all that’s left is to make sure we don’t use the word ‘artisan’ anywhere. Perhaps you know him from Ham or Kew Market?
Fancy dress shop Staggerin on Heath Road has closed down. Now what are you going to do when you get that last minute invite to a 70s themed party? And there’s a new charity shop, Together As One, in what used to be the ABC Pharmacy on King Street which is being run “in association with Richmond Furniture Scheme”. Is it an “artisan charity shop”? If it isn’t, we reckon one will be along soon enough.
Martin & Co the lettings and estate agent have moved from The Green to 44 London Road in central Twickenham (corner place, opposite Happicraft, got it?). What with Websters recently arrived on Heath Road and Foxtons due to appear on York Street, you have to say, “Ambassador, with these estate agents you are really spoiling us”.
On the subject of pubs (which we weren’t) The Aleksander on Richmond Road in East Twickenham opens for business on 2nd October. Previously known as The Rising Sun and The Marble Hill, the pub has been refurbed and reviatalised under new ownership. It’s named after the owner’s son, apparently. Nearby The Crown is still closed pending its refit.
And talking of closed, Angelo’s the (sort of) Italian restaurant on Heath Road looks to be in a bad way. A sign in the window says it’s “closed by order of our bank until further notice”. It looks like tax could have something to do with it if this bankruptcy notice from July is anything to go by, as spotted by @armakarma on Twitter. Most people would agree that the restaurant isn’t what it used to be back in the days when Angelo himself was running it, but it’s often still busy at weekends and popular with the lycra clad Twickenham Cycling Club for their post-ride refreshment. Where will they go now? Will it return?
Raising the Bar
Most of the recent high street action seems to have taken place on the booze and food front. The George on King Street has had a bit of makeover and marketing push to go with it. We’ve probably reached a position where most of the pubs and bars in the town centre have had a refurb of some sort in the last 18 months or so, which is good news for drinkers.
We’re also liking the fact that the long defunct Ranch pub on York Street has been brought back into use. Ales & Tails, is a pop up ‘craft bar’ offering cocktails, unusual and regional beers, and a few interesting little numbers such as its signature drink, gin and rhubarb tonic. It took a while to ‘pop up’ and it’ll close again on Saturday 22nd to get a proper refit before re-opening, all gins blazing, on 24th October. Got to be worth a visit?
And finally, Rileys sports and snooker bar has just received permission to add bingo to its repetoire. We’ll resist the temptation to make any kind of bingo related joke but feel free to make up your own.
Food for Thought
Heavenly Dish who specialise in corporate and private catering have opened a cafe outlet on Heath Road. As well as a small but interesting menu they’re also offering courses on Thai and Japanese cuisine and cookery skills ‘master classes’.
Those who speculated that Karahi Spices on Heath Road would be “opening soon” for longer than it ever actually stayed in business proved to be correct. The place is now being turned into a vegetarian and vegan restaurant, Blah Blah Blah which has been based in Shepherd’s Bush for many years but is now heading south west. Having a dedicated veggie place in Twickenham is an interesting development but it will be the fifth restaurant business to occupy that spot in the last five or six years. And by a not very interesting co-incidence, what was one of the restaurants previously occupying the space? You’ve got it, Heavenly Dish. So best of luck to both of them with their new ventures.
Elsewhere, on York Street, one former restaurant premises that is going the way of the devil is what used to be Shanghai Village. Word is that Foxtons estate agents will be moving in. Yay! Although Shanghai Village had its fans, we’ve also had a few comments on here about the glut of restaurants in the town but were all those people who wanted fewer eateries dreaming of the time when another estate agent would set up in Twickenham. Probably not. Substituting an estate agent for a restaurant doesn’t feel like progress but an occupied shop has to be better than an empty one. Perhaps there’s another house price boom on the way? It doesn’t exactly feel like it.
That’s all for now. Don’t go changin’.