It’s been a long time since our last Twickenham high street update. Has much really happened in the last 3 months? You bet your bottom dollar it has. And we’ve even added a couple of updates right at the end.

Heath Road has been a veritable hive of activity with openings (hooray) and closings (boo) reflecting the ever changing face of High Street UK.  Probably the biggest story is the closure of Albert’s Music Shop after 62 years of supporting the musical folk of south west London.  It’s a shame to see a longstanding family business disappear and the end of Albert’s will leave a big gap on the high street. These are tough times for specialist retailers and the internet’s gain is Twickenham’s loss.

Albert's Music Shop
Albert’s Music Shop

Shall we talk about 39 Heath Road again? Yes, let’s! It’s been home to restaurants with more names than Lord Voldemort but was most recently known as Istanbul Ocakbasi.  That has been shut for a while but now building work is taking place to give it a re-fit ready for its next incarnation. We hear it’s going to be an Italian, possibly a Sicilian.  Whatever it is, we wish the new business at that particular location the very, very, VERY best of luck.

And it’s not just Italians that are moving in. The now closed Standard Tandoori at 68 Heath Road will become Chuba Rasa, a Malaysian cafe. Malaysian could be something a bit different for that part of town although the ‘off centre’  location perhaps isn’t necessarily the best.

Coming soon... Chuba Rasa
Coming soon… Chuba Rasa

And sticking with the far eastern theme, what used to be Cafe Coffee Day on York Street is now Ben Thanh Vietnamese cafe.  With Pho Saigon (also Vietnamese) and Miss Siam (Thai) just up the road it’s entering a competitive marketplace but on the plus side, that section of York Street  has a strong foodie theme going on so it could do well.

Ben Thanh, York Street
Ben Thanh, York Street

Our culinary tour continues… We bring you news of the impending arrival of not one but two American themed restaurants. First up is Chicago Rib Shack who we hear might be moving into the old Ales & Tails premises on York Street.  It’s a British chain serving burgers, ribs and the like and it has big expansion plans. Today Clapham, Leeds and Southampton; tomorrow Twickenham and the world! You’d better believe it, buddy.

Meanwhile, Blue’s Smokehouse have plans to open in lil’ ol’ Twickers. Currently based in Bracknell, Berkshire (as opposed to Bracknell, Kentucky* ) it’s another American themed affair specialising in BBQ ribs, burgers and other American dishes. We hear that these guys could be moving into what is currently the Twickenham Tavern pub on London Road.  Both the Chicago Rib Shack and Blue’s Smokehouse look to be covering largely the same territory and what’s more, it will also mean competition for the American themed Mac’s Diner on Cross Deep which recently celebrated its first birthday.  So, it looks as if we could have three American themed eateries in town before you can say, “Gimme the pulled pork slider with maple slaw and BBQ pastrami fries on the side”.  Interestingly Chicago Rib Shack’s Clapham branch does offer breakfasts and we’ve always reckoned that American brekkies could do well in the State of Twickenham.

Worth a mention is the big ‘for sale’ sign over Marc Jason’s Shoeworld on Heath Road.  Does this spell troubled times for the purveyor of cheap footwear to the Twickenham community? We’ll keep you posted on that one.

You’ll have already seen our separate piece mentioning the change in ownership of the London Road bar which has rendered Twickenham Theatre homeless after its very first production.   It’s a real shame, especially given the rave reviews for its Sweeney Todd which played to appreciative audiences in the pub’s upstairs space – we  hope the theatre gets somewhere sorted soon.  Meanwhile, Twickenham waits with bated breath to see how the next bar fares in that particular location. The Rugby Tavern, The Garryowen, Cody’s Bar, The London Road have all come and gone over recent years but the nondescript building stuck in the corner of Regal House remains. At the moment the latest tenant is The Pub aka The Smokeshack although this very much has the look of a pop-up bar rather than a permanent fixture.

Something for the gentlemen? Heath Road barbers Cut Unit (the place that must give dyslexia sufferers a bit of a shock) has extended into the tiny next door premises and is now selling a small range of clothes and shoes. An interesting ‘upselling’ idea that might do well with regular clientele.

And for the ladies? True Beauty Salon on King Street Parade, Cross Deep which we mentioned back in July is now open for business.  It’s in the place that used to be occupied by that other thing, you know, something about pianos wasn’t it?

In the same parade, what was the King’s Dry Cleaners on Cross Deep is now ‘under new management’ as The Press Gang. And just across the other side of the junction, we hear that Reels ‘amusements’ has now spun its last set of cherries. With so many other ways available to fritter away money including from the comfort of your own home, times must be tough for traditional ‘arcade’ type businesses.

And to end with some more positive news… on Staines Road, just past Twickenham Green there’s a new shop, Glorious, selling gifts, knick knacks and greetings cards along similar lines to Mojo in Church Street and it also sells handmade cushions, bunting and even restored furniture. Worth checking out. And even the ‘Star Wars shop’ has got a new and improved window display.  The nearby Lovers Lights Gallery based at 64 The Green is opening a pop-up shop and gallery in Church Street in the former home of Mercado. It will give arty, crafty types an opportunity to see and buy glassware, lamps, bags and jewellery right in the centre of Twickenham.

 

That’s all for now.

UPDATES:
The pub at 65 Richmond Road which has been through many guises over the years including The Club House and also being closed a lot of the time, has now re-opened as The Mulberry Tree. According to its website, there was a pub with that name on Richmond Road dating back as far as 1855. The aim is to create a craft beery, foodie kind of pub and the work is being undertaken in stages.

One of the long vacant premises on Heath Road has now opened selling Jo Downs Handmade Glass. The shop sells a range of glassware including mirrors, vases, frames and coasters. Based in Cornwall, Jo Downs has four galleries there but has recently added Ripley, near Woking, and now Twickenham to that list. It’s near the former Alberts Music Shop.

Jo Downs Glass, Heath Road
Jo Downs Glass, Heath Road

Expect serious consternation from some (and possibly joy from others) at the plans to open a Lidl in East Twickenham. It’s not new news – a plan for a Lidl and a Travelodge on the site was rejected in May 2013 – but things are moving forward again and neighbour consultation letters have been sent out by the company. The development is at Ryde House, 381-393 Richmond Road and will also feature new flats. Lidl will be running a public consultation about their plans on Friday 14th November. It will take place at the Oak Room at the Crossway Centre next to St Stephen’s Church, Richmond Road. They are also setting up a website but its not live yet so clicking http://www.richmondroad.lidl.co.uk won’t achieve much.

And back on York Street, longstanding resident Pizza Express has re-opened after a brief refurb.

Good luck to all new businesses! OK, so we’ve missed a few… but we won’t know what they are until you tell us. Get your self out there for a mooch around town. 
 

* Bracknell, Kentucky? There is no such place. Yet.