Frequent Caff Queries
TV & Film
Common and uncommon queries concerning cafe matters...
Why no Burger King listings?
Why not grade cafes
according to the menu quality?
Cafes are disgusting
- full of crazies and oldsters?
Why concentrate just
How about a map with
the exact location of each caff - what about a search function?
but didn't Cliff Richard start off in a cafe?
Jo Brown, Tommy Steele
And what about Kevin
Look, I'm a St*rbucked
Shoreditch Twat, can you make this very, very simple for me?
Old classic cafes are a breed apart but the coffee combines are deliberately hunting them down. Their flooding of high streets with coffee outlets isn't simply natural economic change it's a planned programme of extinction.
Classic cafes were vital to the (sub)cultural life of postwar Britain. Throughout the 60s London dictated youth culture to the rest of the world and the origins of this ascendancy can be traced back directly to the activities in the cafes of the 1950s.
Music, fashion, film, advertising, photography, sex, crime, the avant-garde... The cafes were the creative enclaves where it was all honed. They added an impassioned European vibrancy to Britain's deflated postwar social, artistic and commercial scene.
Now the corporates are destroying them: they negotiate exorbitant leases, raise 'comparables' (rent levels used to calculate local rent increases) and then put competitors out of business.
The corporates have massive leverage. Their huge marketing budgets, extensive political contacts and unlimited resources give them a blatantly unfair economic advantage over competitors. (For one Leicester Square rental alone Starbucks paid £1.5m. And they will often run expensive sites at a loss to squeeze out opposition.)
Most insidiously, coffeeshop culture is a form of Identity Marketing, the appropriation of next-generation consumers through the targeting of 'progressive' agendas and youth markets. The corporates create 'lifestyle options', engineer 'buy in' and then close down the competition.
The flooding of towns with coffee shops is key to this Identity Marketing. The fall out is retail blandness across the high street. Almost as bad is the accompanying cold, dead brand-speak that counsels: 'Exceed expectations; Have strong values; Reach out to communities' even as it negotiates the rent-rises that will level them.
Though the clones pay lipservice to diversity, corporate mono-culture is on the rampage. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) survey of August 2004 confirms the damage: chain stores that spread "like weeds" are turning traditional high streets into "clone towns"; urban deserts that belong to corporations, not people.
For their far-reaching impact on modern Britain, we owe our grand old cafes an immense debt of gratitude and a serious duty of care.
Keep 'em Classic. Kick out the Clones!
St*rb*cks' brand mantra:
1 Exceed the expectations of your own people.
2 Have strong values, stick to them and use them to guide decisions.
3 Ensure there's no gap between your brand values and your actions.
4 Keep reinventing, but never tamper with the core of what you do
5 Reach out to communities through your people
6 Remember that every detail matters.
"St*rbucks went on to open an average
of more than five stores every month in the UK from 1996 to 2000.
Prices paid for the prized high street locations spiralled until
St*rbucks forked out an eye-watering £1.5m in a Leicester
Square rental deal. As the competition struggled to compete,
St*rbucks kept running its expensive sites at a loss, prompting
accusations that they were using their muscle to unfairly squeeze
out the opposition... Its drive for world dominance meant it
was becoming a symbol of globalisation, and therefore a target
for protestors. Meanwhile, in 2002 Coffee R*public lost £7.5m.
Caffe N*ro struggled on under a debt mountain of £7m..."
"Landlords now set such astronomical rents that only multinationals can afford them. But two of the country's richest landowners actively discriminate against the corporates. The Mercers Company, one of London's biggest landlords (it has owned much of Covent Garden and eight acres of the City since the 16th century), forbids chain stores on its streets. It is wooing independent shops by offering them incentives, such as a 15% rent reduction. "If we allow Covent Garden to be another high street, we would be competing with every other street in Britain" Michael Soames, the company's surveyor, said recently.
Howard De Walden, the estate that owns much of London's Marylebone, is also spurning the chains. Andrew Ashenden, De Walden's chief executive, has accused councils of ruining their high streets by favouring the highest bidder and not promoting individuality: "The multiples have become so dominant that they have ruined the high streets and taken away their character," he says. "The high street should be a mix and that is something that most local authorities ignore."
Ashenden has also criticised greedy landlords:
"They want the strongest covenant and the highest rent,
they want instant results and there's no vision. What they fail
to realise is that an old-fashioned butcher is a very attractive
tenant these days... the big landowners are in a position to
change things... we have the power to make landlords and councils
see sense, by voting with our feet and purses... if this country's
increasingly dreary high streets want to survive, they, and everyone
associated with them, need to change tack, pronto, before it's
"The corporation as an institution, and in particular, the large publicly traded Anglo-American corporation... does one thing very well: create wealth for its shareholders. But it does that at the expense of other interests - human and environmental.
Governments have to recognise that the
corporation is a policy tool, not an end in itself. Governments
have to ensure an appropriate balance between wealth creation
and other interests. They have to immunise themselves to the
undue influence of corporations on public policy, and revitalise
and re-democratise the systems that protect public interests
from corporate harms.
We need to regain democratic control of
the corporation... we need to work on revitalising the public
regulatory sphere, reversing the trend towards privatising and
commercialising every aspect of our lives, and reconstituting
our international institutions, like the World Trade Organisation
in ways that foster fair trade rather than blindly following
1) What exactly IS a Classic Cafe?
2) What Is The New Piccadilly
3) Why are they vanishing & why should I care?
4) What can be done?
5) What's the Classic Cafes book about?
6) How do I get it?