Heath chiefs look to bring in ‘pop-up’ eateries as Parliament Hill Lido cafe closes just months after opening
Cafe owner says popular pool business was too much for one person
10 November, 2016 — By Dan Carrier
Tara Kingsley ran the cafe at the Parliament Hill Lido until the end of September
THE new café at Parliament Hill Lido has closed, just months after its owners were awarded a three-year lease to run it.
Proprietor Tara Kingsley, who lives in South End Green, revealed plans in March to create a community hub, with a menu that included home-made cakes and pies, at the grade II-listed open-air pool.
But, with the shutters down at the café, she told the New Journal last night (Wednesday) that she had decided not to continue.
“It was a hard decision as I loved the place but my head had to rule,” Ms Kingsley said. “It was too hard for one person to manage as a low-price community cafe.”
The lease was granted to her as part of the City of London’s shake-up of refreshments on Hampstead Heath, which caused controversy when family-run businesses faced being evicted to make way for chain operator Benugo until a public backlash forced a rethink.
The news that Ms Kingsley had called time on the Lido café was delivered at a meeting of the Heath Consultative Committee on Monday night when Heath superintendent Bob Warnock explained that he was now looking at what to do with the empty space. One possibility is a series of “pop-up” eateries.
Mr Warnock added: “It will be discussed in January. We will consider what we do next by speaking to swimmers and the people who used it. It was only a seasonal café but by May 2017 we would like to see a business there that can be sustained all year round.”
A City spokesman added: “Following a successful summer running the lido café, we were saddened to receive notification from Digital Heroes [Ms Kingsley’s company] of their private and commercial decision to cease trading.”
Meanwhile, the results of a survey over the future of other cafés on the Heath are being number-crunched by the City, with a decision on their future due to be taken at the start of next year.
The City received more than 1,500 responses to a questionnaire over the future of the cafés. It has to decide whether the current families – the D’Aurias and the Pazientis – will be awarded new, longer leases.
Speaking to the meeting, Mr Warnock said: “It has been an open process. We will have the results from a workshop and then the full results of the survey, look at the outcomes and then decide what the next step is.”