High Street Update: Updated

Our last High Street Update was a pretty comprehensive affair and it seems that not much has happened since then. Or rather, a fair bit has happened but mostly in the form of things that were going to open now actually being open.

What you talkin bout Willis? Well, Ruben’s Bakehouse is now open at 52 Heath Road selling baked-on-the-premises ‘artisan bread’ and even offering deliveries too. In fact it’s an ‘artisan bakery lab’ not just a bread shop. Initial reviews seem good and Ruben is tweeting away on Twitter mentioning things like ‘sourdough’, so it could be worth your while checking it out. He’s been selling bread in places like Kew market and Ham but his Twickenham shop is a new venture. At between about £2.80 and £3.50 for a loaf it’s not cheap but we can confirm that it is darn good bread. Best of luck, dude.

Ruben’s Bakehouse

Also now open since our last update is the Blah Blah Blah vegetarian and vegan restaurant also on Heath Road, near the ‘Red Lion’ Tesco Express (more on that company later). The menu is small but has a few interesting things on it. It’s the fifth restaurant on that site in the last few years so let’s hope it sticks around.

And another one from our last update, Ales & Tails bar on York Street is no longer a ‘pop up’ bar, it’s now a fully grown-up bar. It’s had its refurb and is open for business selling a range of ‘craft beers’ and cocktails and has got a good menu going on too. It’s been busy putting itself about a bit on the marketing front and feedback so far has been positive.

Burger That! We see that what was O’Zon on London Road is to become, wait for it, a Burger King! KFC, Wimpy and now Burger King in Twickenham. What chance of the return of McDonalds to the town some point? Don’t rule it out. In fact the Burger King’s franchise owners are seeking a late opening licence for food, though not booze. (see the comments section below).

Still on London Road, COOK is now open in the place that was Indus restaurant. It sells ‘remarkable food for your freezer’ and we feel we’re on safe ground in saying that Kerry Katona will not be promoting this particular frozen food outlet any time soon. So it won’t be long before you can stuff yourself full of a Whopper with cheese to keep the wolf from the door as you choose your posh ready meal for your little supper party later on. We’d love to see a Venn diagram for shopping on that stretch of road.

Round the corner Harris and Hoole (or rather Harris+Hoole) is now open on King Street. Who, what and why? It’s the latest addition to Twickenham’s café culture bringing an ‘artisan approach’ to coffee making right to the heart of our fair town. In fact it’s going to bring a ‘whole new coffee experience to the high street’. There’s bold for you! Apparently you need to wear a virtual reality suit and absorb the coffee through your skin, whilst listening to Mongolian nose flute players. On stilts. So who are these H+H people anyway? Well, it’s a new venture brought to you by the folks who run the small chain of Taylor St Baristas coffee shops in London and Brighton… and retail giant Tesco. [UPDATE: We heard on Twitter that H+H will also be moving in to the former Superdrug store in St Margarets too, right next to the Tesco in fact, BUT H&H have told us that’s not true]. Oh, and the H+H name? Harris & Hoole are two gentlemen who feature in Samuel Pepys’ diary on his visit to a coffee shop. Whether they liked ‘artisan’ coffee or just good, normal coffee is not recorded. But who cares, wasn’t everything ‘artisan’ back in the 17th century including the bread, the beer and even the websites?

And lastly, we hear a rumbling that The Crown pub on Richmond Road could become a Sainsburys. It’s been shut for a while and its ‘refurb’ seems to have become a ‘no-furb’, so perhaps a change of plan is in the offing. But then again, don’t people always think that every empty pub is going to become a Tesco or a Sainsburys? More news when we get it.

But that’s it for now folks, stay tuned for more rock & roll.

So it seems our source was right all along. Several months ago we received an email saying that Sainsbury’s would be moving into the refurbished building on Twickenham Green (former Blays motorbike shop, then an unfrequented furniture store). The idea was rubbished on Twitter at the time but now twickerati reader Charles has tipped us off that the plans are in for a shiny Sainsbury’s sign. Here’s a link to the Council planning pages.


Filed under Food & Drink, High Street Updates

43 responses to “High Street Update: Updated

  1. Blooper

    Tried Blah Blah Blah for the first time and it’s really good. Would reccomend it. Lovely waitress and interesting food with a lot of attention to detail. We were the only people in there though, until one other couple arrived later. Agree on the good 50s music. Could be quite atmospheric in there if they get more people through the door.

    • Sonia

      I have eaten at Blah Blah Blah twice. Once with another vegetarian, once with a meat eater. On both occasions we were thoroughly impressed with the food – very fresh ingredients and incredibly flavoursome. I would like to see it busier….

  2. jimbo

    What makes a High St shop close down? Can’t just be lack of footfall – look at Reels (which I’ve always thought must be a “front” for an MI6 office) or the Real Ale shop in Richmond. Hardly ever anyone there!

    • Re: ‘the Real Ale shop in Richmond.’ I take it you mean the one on Richmond Rd East Twickenham – where I live? It is offering 40% off just now which just about makes its beers good value. Perhaps it is going out of business too.

    • jimbo

      Thank you, Mr Squire. I apologise – it just feels like Richmond when one turns the corner by Aleksanders. I am very partial to real ale, but being a home brewer I have little need of it; 40% sounds good news.

    • The local estate agents would be delighted to read this as they have been trying to talk the neighbourhood up as ‘west Richmond’ for years.

      It is true that many, probably most, ET residents look primarily to Richmond for shopping and leisure and regard Twickenham centre as no more than a bottle-neck on the way to somewhere else. The interests of this group have been entirely disregarded in the planning of the proposed visitor-friendly town centre. Few of them, I imagine, will have responded to teh recent consultation – or even known about it.

  3. UPDATE: So it seems our source was right all along. Several months ago we received an email saying that Sainsbury’s would be moving into the refurbished building on Twickenham Green (number 32-38, the former Blays motorbike shop, then an unfrequented furniture store). The idea was rubbished on Twitter at the time but now twickerati reader Charles has tipped us off that the plans are in for a shiny Sainsbury’s sign. Here’s a link to the Council planning pages.

    • Rufus McDufus

      What a stupid place for a Sainsburys! I would’ve thought the new building replacing the old DSS (which is a nice example of a good development by the way) would be better. There’s pretty much zero parking nearby and it’s not even a particularly busy pedestrian thoroughfare which is why no-one’s been silly enough to run a shop from there for years.
      Better news for all the old newsagents along Heath Road though as the expected competiton won’t be quite so fierce. So long as Tesco continues to charge twice as much then they have nothing to fear.

    • There is zero parking at this site. parking locally is a red hot issue anyway. Where will they unload the stock? Will the lorries park outside like the guys in the boiler shop down the road?

      Tescos has been a massive success so it’s not a surprise sainsbury’s want some of the action.

    • chantifrog

      Actually it was a year ago I told you (see email below for reference). Maybe you should have published it, so local residents would have had more time to prepare.

      To: “Twickerati@gmail.com”
      Sent: Thursday, 15 December 2011, 10:00
      Subject: Re: Sainsbury on Twickenham Green?

      Hi there,

      I was just passing by the green this morning when I noticed several surveyors by the old outdoor furniture shop (Costwolds).
      I got chatting with them and they said they were commissioned by Sainsbury as part of a plan to assess the feasibility of opening an outlet there!
      Considering we already have a Tesco 100 yards away it seems unnecessary.
      The green look/traffic/shops/houses would mostly be negatively affected so I think it’s the last thing we need.

      Anyway I thought I’d let you know in case you want to investigate further.

    • Thanks for the reminder. It got an airing on Twitter and was met with the usual array of “You’ve got the wrong place” and “It’ll never happen with a Tesco just down the road”. Didn’t seem to get mentioned on the High Street Update – probably lost in the noise of Christmas. Tesco Express on Heath Road has shown that whatever many people may think about national chains opening up in places like this, people end up using them.

    • Yvonne Hewett

      I’d heard a rumour that Sainsburys were going into the ground floor of the new building in the Heath Road at the corner of Saville Rd, where the old DSS office used to be. There’s loads of space – I wonder what’s going in there. Anybody heard?

    • Rufus McDufus

      Seems a more logical place to have the store, but it’s sounding fairly settled on the Green site?

  4. John

    There is a planning application to redevelop the 2 listed buildings at 34-36 King Street (Cousins greengrocers & the ex Wishbone butchers).

    The application can be seen here at http://www2.richmond.gov.uk/PlanData2/Planning_CaseNo.aspx?strCASENO=12/3318/FUL

  5. David Mawson

    Angelo’s is now up for sale. £900,000 is the asking price!


    • Rosie

      Good local info, thanks. Rumour has it that McDonalds has applied to the Council to move into Angelos place. Also, Morrissons planning on taking over the old Blockbusters site.

      Working my way through town from the station I may soon be able to shop at Waitrose or M&S or Iceland or Morrison’s or Tesco or Sainsburys!! How much food do we need? We already have a wonderful butcher and fishmonger, Rubens fresh bread, fruit and veg and posh cakes – we don’t need another junk food outlet or a supermarket b

      In light of this we will need a health club on the high street!

    • Counter rumour says McDonalds will not be moving in there.
      However there are plenty of other empty shops in more central locations where they could go.

  6. Anonymous

    Karali Leisure Ltd, for Burger King, in the London Road, is requesting a late night licence to sell alcohol and refreshments from 23.00 to 5.00. The premises will be open 24 hours a day, every day of the week. A notice of application is in the window of 33-35 London Road.
    Anyone wishing to make a representation about this to the council must do so to the Licensing Authority at the Civic Centre, 44 York St, where the proposal can be viewed during normal office hours.
    Further information is supposed to be available at http://www.richmond.gov.uk, but no-one seems to have located it yet.
    The deadline for representations and comments is December 21st, 2012.

    • twickerman

      Riverside Councillors Chappell and Naylor will be able to advise as its in their ward and they are on licensing committee.
      I didn’t know BK did booze.
      FYI, the Travelodge application for off sales was refused and on trade limited to residents late at night

    • Yvonne Hewett

      Info on the licence application is in the last section of http://www.richmond.gov.uk/new_and_variation_premises_v391.pdf

    • twickerman

      Well done Yvonne,

      Licensable Activities Applied For:
      I – Late Night Refreshment: Monday to Sunday 23:00 – 05:00 hours
      O – Hours premises are open to the public: Monday to Sunday 24hrs
      Last date for objection 21 Dec 2012

    • Visitor

      Walking around Twickenham at 8pm last night was very depressing indeed and yesterday was a rugby match day so the town should have been buzzing with atmosphere.

      If the Council want local businesses to survive they really need to get a grip and move with the times.

      24 hour gyms are open everywhere including 24 hour saunas for gay men.

      Puregym have opened below a block of flats in Greenwich.

      The good thing about the gym in Twickenham is that if you pull someone in the gym you will be able to take them back to the Travelodge for dinner!

    • Anonymous

      I wondered where we were going wrong. A 24 hour gym and sauna for rugby fans. Whoo hoo! After necking back gallons of ale all day, quaffing a curry and a pie or two, and shouting ourselves stupid, a vist to the gym or sauna to pull someone would round it off very nicely, thankyou.
      Or as many people will tell you, a lot of fans don’t stick around like they used to because they don’t have the money anymore. It’s as simple as that. A 24/7 economy in Twickers smacks of desperation not necessity.

    • twickerman

      Twickenham was buzzing with atmosphere on Saturday before, during and after the best England match ever. If you’re in any doubt please see many of the photos I tweeted yesterday @twickeman

      Don’t expect a suana in the Anytime Fitness gym. There will be no frills, and with just 1.2 visitors/hours at night (peak season) you’re unlike to pull anything more than a muscle!

  7. twickerman

    The latest news concerns a 24 hour Gym that’s coming to Regal House. It’s part of an American franchise company and will be on the first floor of Regal House facing London Road. It’ll be great for spotting sweaty gym bunnies as you walk home from the station.

    The planning application was approved by the planning committee on 01 November with a few conditions (enforceable) and informatives (non-enforceable) intended to limit gym and car park noise and night time light pollution. Below is a summary of the main discussion points:

    At the meeting the Anytime Fitness director stated that most of their customers are either elderly or female. Budding Schwarzenneger’s are apparantly not encouraged.

    The applicant suggested Cllr Elengorn was a typical customer. Cllr Elengorn amused the committee by replying “I don’t think so, I’m a specialist in unfitness’. Guffaw guffaw!

    Because the gym will be unsupervised from 8pm to 8am and at weekends the committee expressed concern about members safety and residents protection. Anytime Fitness said that this was their concept and they wouldn’t change it, and if residents had a problem they could phone the following day (when it would be too late to do anything).

    Cllr Elengorn asked if it was sustainable to heat and light such a large space throughout the night when it will be used by only 1.2 customers/hour (in peak season). Anytime Fitness explained that this was their concept and they were sticking to it no matter how empty the gym would be.

    Pay as you go membership is also not part of the Anytime Fitness concept. Customers will have to sign a contract for a whole year.

    Cllr Khosa, speaking in support of the gym, entertained the committee when he explained that the gym concept was like KFC and McDonalds! Soon there would be one on every high street. Snigger, guffaw,snigger!

    The meeting webcast is on the Council website at http://www.richmond.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcasts
    The applicants Q&A sessions start after another application @ 1hr10mins. It’s surprisingly amusing 😉

  8. Anonymous

    H&H is fine coffee. A nice addition. But the food at luluz is much better

  9. coco

    Any update on what is going on -or not going on -where Superdrug was – in St margarets?

  10. The Council Cabinet meeting on November 15 agreed to a 20 mph limit for Twickenham town centre and to proceed to detailed design on the proposed changes:
    and http://cabnet.richmond.gov.uk/documents/s36130/Twickenham%20Town%20Centre%20Street%20Scene%20and%20Highways%20Proposals.pdf .
    The cost willbe £6 – £7m; a STEP ONE bid to TfL has been prepared for up to £4m over three years supported by LIP funding £1m and Council Uplift funding of £2m together with section 106 contributions: I suppose that if the bid is unsuccessful the scheme will be mothballed or abandoned.

  11. No, i love the signage on the bakery, much better than all that plastic of recent years, the literary salon too. As to location, the rents along Heath rd are about 1/3 of those in H&H country, so for anyone not in a chain it’s the place to be. The 100 yard walk is the least we can all offer to support local independents and with Heavenly Dish along side perhaps we can get an uplift along the length of the street

  12. Anonymous

    Bought some Reuben’s olive bread today. Bleddy lovely. Almost finished it.

  13. Ruben’s poppy seed bloomer = yumm

  14. Bettybamalam

    Reuben’s sourdough is delicious and good with salted butter (preferably Welsh if you can get it)

  15. GW

    Not sure about the Crown, you can google a planning application that makes it a pub with a more substantial restaurant in the room at the back. Sign on the door says that planning is delaying the work so fingers crossed on that one.

    Rubens is fab,

  16. A lot of the new entrants are very good indeed, thoroughly encouraging for Twickenham. We had a terrific meal in Ales and Tails on opening night (we hope to return soon) and Rubens is a great addition (I worry a little about the location but it’s worth the extra 100 yards). The signs for both are a little understated – they could both miss out on passing trade – but the quality of both places should generate good repeat business.

  17. Simon H

    Reuben’s is very nice indeed, but it needs a decent sign. You can barely see the current one.

  18. Mr Coffee Bean

    [Editor’s note: this comment has been moved to this new item from the previous High St Update]

    Reports from the front line:

    Had a macchiato in Harris + Hoole this morning – good coffee, very helpful staff, bags of space, nice-looking stuff to eat, pushchair count: 1. Also, pretty full – I hope Luluz isn’t going to be harmed by this competition. The walls and ceiling seem a bit unfinished with cabling and stuff hanging about. But I believe they do pay Corporation Tax.

    Then walked along to Ruben’s Bakehouse. Not a lot on the shelves at the moment, but bought a lovely sourdough. The wood-fired oven’s not going yet and the coffee machine has yet to be connected. Had a chat with Ruben himself about the niceties of sourdough starters, yeast cultures and oven temperatures, as one does.

    Went to Blah Blah Blah a couple of nights ago. Not many people in (actually, 5, including 2 of us). Decent Middle-Eastern veggie menu with not a great choice, which is not neccessarily bad thing. Food not perfect, but good enough, but a little pricey for this part of Twickenham (£10 & £11 for mains). Charming waitress. Needs better lighting, but the music is great (50s and 60s classics – Doris Day, anyone?). They plan to change their menu weekly – I think they said it’s Italian next then Mexican. They need to up their game a bit if they’re not going to go the way of all the other attempts to survive in that place.