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House plan gives coffee shop grounds for concern

Cricks Corner thanks landlords for lockdown help but worries over future of site

04 December, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Tom Koszel, co-owner of Cricks Corner coffee

THE future of a stylish coffee shop on a historic corner of Dartmouth Park is unclear after the owner of the building registered plans to convert the space into a house.

Cricks Corner opened five years ago, choosing a name that honoured its previous use as a bookshop and lending library.

Albert Crick had gained a following in the 1940s for selling withdrawn library books. The site later became a sweet shop and a newsagent, before the current café moved in back in 2015.

Co-owner Tom Koszel said: “Our current lease runs until 2026. We have been told that our landlord is applying for change of use in order to have a contingency plan should the economy take a further drastic turn.”

But he added: “I politically and spiritually believe in independent businesses that make a profit, but are a place where you can come and meet your mates. We do that well. We have a fantastic collection of regulars and we feel everywhere deserves a hospitality venue like ours or the local pub. It feels like it would be a retrograde step to lose this.”

After being set up by Simon Ward, some familiar faces have been among the swathes of regulars who welcomed the arrival of Cricks.

Giles Coren, The Times restaurant reviewer who lives nearby, wrote a tribute to it, although he joked he didn’t like the coffee much.

“I love the smell of bacon, the Brick Lane bagels, the St John’s doughnuts, the chicken and avocado sandwiches on sourdough rye,” he said. “I love the fact that once in a while Simon gets a bag of properly roasted coffee in and I think everything is going to be okay, but then the next time in he’s back on the green stuff and saying: ‘Morning Giles, boiled lemon juice?’”

Many disagree with him about the coffee and customers have sent objections to the potential change to planning officials at Islington Council who are reviewing the application for building consent.

Mr Koszel said they employed six full-time people whose jobs would be under threat.

It has been helped by their landlord over the pandemic when they were forced to shut, however, and he added: “We wish to maintain a strong working relationship with our landlord for years to come. We are very grateful for his patience and generosity this year.”

In a planning statement on behalf of the owner Rodney Powell, JMS Planning said gaining permission to convert the building into a “high quality” two-bedroom home would provide much-needed accommodation, meeting Islington Council’s objectives.

They added the current flat upstairs was “undersized”, and by using Cricks Corner on the ground floor, one decent-sized family home could be provided.

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