Here’s the next in our series of longer conversations, ‘Bethnal Green; After Hours’, in which we’re shining a light on all of the fantastic businesses that make E2 such a vibrant place to be at night. The pubs, the clubs, the galleries, the restaurants, the bars & much more besides – new & old – we’re blessed as an area with some hidden gems and some straight-up institutions that fly the flag for the ever changing, ever-beloved East End.
We caught up with Alex from Chiringuito – to hear about his new venture in Museum Gardens. One of the great things about Bethnal Green is its swirling melange of cultures, & it was lovely hearing how devout east Londoner Alex has brought a little slice of Barcelona to E2 – cheers Alex!
Hi Alex & Chringuito – tell us a bit about your new venue.
Hi Joe! Our new venue is called Chiringuito – named after the little all-day beach bars that line beaches in Spain. We don’t quite benefit from the Mediterranean sun, but we do sit in a lovely little corner of Museum Gardens, right next to Bethnal Green tube. Like our namesakes, we are an all-day venue serving you up a coffee and brekkie to start your day, right through to your post work dinner and cocktails. Whilst we can’t offer views of the Med, I think we have a pretty sweet spot to watch the world go by, and when the sun does pop out there’s no better place in BG than on our roof terrace.
Sounds great! What from the menu would you really recommend we tuck into when we visit?
Our menu is a blend of Spanish and Latin America dishes, and our Head Chef Marco Padilla is from Peru. That being the case, it would be wrong of me not to recommend his amazing ceviche. Like our beach side inspiration, the menu has plenty of fish and seafood options, and the seabass in chilli, passionfruit and grape sauce is amazing. For the meat lover, you would be hard pushed to beat our traditional Lomo Soltado – sliced rump steak sautéed with vegetables in a soy and ginger sauce, flamed with pisco.
Why Bethnal Green? Is the area close to your heart?
I love Bethnal Green. I’ve lived here for 15 years, and my family has grown up in and around Stepney and Bethnal Green for as many generations as we can look back. There’s something about its vibe and bustle that talks to me: sitting on the doorstep of the shiny City, but still kept down to earth and a little rough around the edges. Barcelona is another place very close to my heart, and I have spent time living in that spectacular city beside the sea and the mountains. Chiringuito is my attempt to bring a little piece of Barcelona to east London.
You came along to our meeting of ‘The Green’ last month – how do you think the community and the area are shaping up currently?
Thank you very much for inviting me along to meet with you guys. It was great to meet other like-minded, community-spirited people. It was really refreshing and interesting to listen to the group all speaking about their projects, successes, pitfalls, and coming together to encourage and support each other. Myself and other members of the team from Chiringuito would definitely like to belong to the group, and it would also be lovely to host you at our venue sometime.
..& how have you seen the area change over the years?
The area is changing a lot these days, and particularly in the fields of retail and hospitality. In the past I have found that in those fields the area has in the past been somewhat bland and lacking. Nowadays that is changing fast. Around our junction alone (Roman Road/ B Green Road/ C Heath Road) Paradise Row’s restaurants have cropped up, the new East London Hotel, nice coffee spots like Second Shot and Carmel, and even our very own winery in Renegade of Gales Gardens. I’m very happy to see that these have almost entirely been independent ventures, and yeah… we have space for a Starbucks too 😉
How will you be looking to maximise the great space you have there right by the tube station? That’s got to be a dream footfall spot!
It’s an awesome and unique spot, and I am proud to have the challenge of making it all tick. That’s quite a challenge when you consider that in the footprint of an old public toilet, we now have a 75 capacity roof terrace overlooked by St John’s Church, 50 or so bistro style seats facing the street and the park, another 50 or so spots on our park benches looking into Museum Gardens, and a further 30 seats in our cosy and bustling interior restaurant space. That’s quite some challenge for a first venture into restaurants, but myself and the team are giving it our all and getting closer and closer each day to our goals.
And tell us a bit about the design of the place – those roof tiles are proper!
It’s been quite a challenge trying to bring the chiringuito vibe to a derelict public toilet, 20 years after it’s doors were sealed shut. We’ve tried to do that by bringing the outside in as much as possible, with floor to ceiling windows on the street and park facing sides. When we started renovation, we found a whole in the roof where an old water tank sat, so we kept it… filled with walk-over glass of course. We’ve taken lots of cues from Catalan design, including the brightly coloured “hidraulico” tiles that you will find inside and on our rooftop.
Do you have anything exciting coming up that we should tell our readers about?
We are still adapting and expanding our menu and offering. By popular demand, we will soon be bringing you our take on Sunday roasts, of course still with a Chiringuito twist. So expect, roast chicken (Pollo Pachmanca), beef (Carne Asada) as well as a great aubergine vegetarian option. We will be bringing you a bottomless brunch, kicking off on Day of the Dead (a Mexican festival similar to Halloween); and a tribute to a famous little Cava and tapas bar from Barcelona called Xampagneria, serving up Cavas by the bottle
Chiringuito is at Museum Gardens, London E2 9PA
Find out more here
The latest in the line up of businesses to feature in our Bethnal Greeners series are Fox Supplements; a supplement shop situated on Bethnal Green Road stocking a wide range of national and international supplementation products. We recently caught up with Jay at his shop to find out more about his business, what he has on offer and learn about his passions for Bethnal Green.
This is actually my second business; I used to run an estate agency for 14 years prior to opening up Fox Supplements. I really saw a demand in the market for high end supplements from people who were serious about gym and their overall fitness. These were the same brands used by professional athletes and many were their respective sponsors. I saw an opening for supplementation that differed from what was already on offer from high street retailers such as Holland & Barret. What I wanted was to be another option for people, operating in a brick and mortar style, changing the ratio of people who purchased online rather than walk-in to a shop. I’ve been an avid gym goer myself so I really understand where my customers are coming from, so that helps in shaping the products I make available to the public.
I stock a wide range of supplementation products from high end brands used by serious athletes. When I make decisions on what stock to bring in, I always carry out thorough research on each and every product. I look into who the sponsors are for popular athletes in the industry and what products they prefer over others. In turn this means I bring in unique products, national and international brands – many of my customers spend considerable time in the gym and wish to achieve optimal results; I’m just here to assist them on their journey to achieving their fitness goals, providing them with advice and the right supplementation products their bodies need.
Your passion for the area
Bethnal Green, I felt like it was the right place to open up a supplements shop due to the close proximity of a number of gyms and the growing popularity of health living and fitness. Also, I’ve grown up around here so I’m a local face; I thought to myself where else would I do so but somewhere where my friends can turn up to, it just made sense. If I opened up a shop say for example in Walthamstow, then hardly anyone I know would turn up. If however, people heard “Jay” opened up a shop in Bethnal, they would swing by and purchase from me, someone they know and can trust. I believe having a local face still matters, yes maybe if this was a chicken and chip shop it wouldn’t matter as much but with something like supplements, people want to buy from someone and somewhere they can trust.
I think most importantly, I like to think of myself as an ethical person, I really want to operate in this manner, unfortunately this industry is known to have a problem with substance misuse, in the world of supplements; everyone wants to grow big and do so quickly. Steroid misuse is prevalent, I want to steer people away from this, from harming themselves and move them towards making the right decisions. I don’t just sell products but also offer free consultation and expert advice for people wanting to get the best from their supplementation. 90% of the customers that buy from me want to be sure that the products they opt for work well with their biology and unique genetic makeup. I understand that everyone is different, and no one product will work well for every body type. Sometimes, you find someone in search for a magic pill in this industry, but unfortunately this isn’t the case, and I work with these individuals to guide them towards the right supplementation regime that works best for them.
I am keen to start a new brand in this industry, one that is reputable and just expand from there. We are also currently in the process of developing a website. We hope to offer our customers an option to purchase online from us as well as in coming into the shop
Fox Supplements are based at 427 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AN and can also be found on Instagram @foxsupplements and online at www.foxsupplements.co.uk
Next up in our Bethnal Greeners series we have the brilliant Juta Shoes, a social enterprise set up with a great mission; equipping underrepresented and underemployed communities with the skills, opportunities and confidence to combat social and financial isolation. As part of Social Saturday 2018, we recently heard from Sabeha Miah, co-founder of Juta Shoes at our networking breakfast. We caught up with her once more to get a further insight!
Juta Shoes started in 2016 when Joanna and Sabeha came up with a crazy idea to support women in Bethnal Green into work through shoemaking. We knew there was an amazing amount of creative talent in local unemployed women, but not enough job opportunities that paid well, were flexible around childcare requirements, and came with a supportive community. We also knew there was a lot of waste in the fashion industry, and plenty of leather offcuts in our local area that we thought we could repurpose.
So we decided we’d create a company that provided good work while reclaiming waste materials. We started with a Kickstarter campaign in November 2016 – we weren’t sure what people would think ,but we ended up meeting our target in two days. Since then, we’ve branched out into other reclaimed leather accessories, and started running our shoemaking workshops.
Since we started, we’ve reclaimed over 200 kilos of leather, worked with some amazing partners, and even won a few awards along the way.
Juta runs social impact crafts workshops, and sells bespoke leather shoes and accessories, using sustainable and reclaimed materials. We support, train and employ local women who face barriers to work, offering them flexible, supported, well-paid work making our shoes, accessories and other products, and teaching our shoemaking workshops.
Your passion for the area
We were born in East London and all our roots are here. We exist because of the creativity, skills and passion of the women of Bethnal Green, and we love connecting people, companies, charities, and groups from across East London.
We work closely with local charities like St Hilda’s East Community Centre, Spitalfields City Farm, and St Margaret’s House, all of which exist to support our local community, as well as companies with offices in East London such as Anthropologie in Spitalfields, Investec Bank, and Forward3D.
We love running special group workshops – for teams at companies, for birthday parties, or wedding showers! We can customise our workshops to whatever you’d like to do do, whether you’d like to paint your own leather shoes, make your own purses, or surprise a friend with a special present.
In five years, we want to be a nationally-known company famous for providing amazing, immersive social impact crafts workshops and creating beautiful, useful products using sustainable materials. But we’ll always be based in East London!
Juta Shoes are based at 29 Old Ford Road and make their products in their Shoreditch studio. They can also be contacted through their website www.jutashoes.com
Next in our Bethnal Greeners series is a new cafe offer on Cambridge Heath Road, The Beehive. Long term friends of Love Bethnal Green, it’s great to see this tasty offer emerge as the daily public face of Bethnal Green Mission Church. We caught up with Pastor Mike Houston, who told us a bit about past, present and future for The Beehive. We’re looking forward to working with Mike and the team more moving forward – look out for October collaborations…
When Annie Macpherson, the founder of Bethnal Green Mission Church, started work in Bethnal Green in the 1860s, she wanted to offer hope, love and hospitality to those living in poverty and on the margins of Victorian society. She developed a ‘Home of Industry’, where homeless children could find not only shelter, warmth, and something to eat and drink, but also an opportunity to learn new skills. Her building was known locally as ‘The Beehive’, a place of ‘industry’ that became a noted feature of Bethnal Green Road, where people could encounter a welcoming and hospitable community. Hence, our name!
The Beehive forms part of the wider charitable work of BGMC. The Beehive is a café, community hub and co-working space providing high quality food, coffee, tea and welcome. It is a not-for-profit enterprise with a desire to use any money made to drive quality and to support and equip those from disadvantaged backgrounds through partnership and opportunity.
Your passion for the area
Like many organisations in Bethnal Green, we have been around a long time in different forms. The diversity and creativity of Bethnal Green with all its paradoxes and challenges continues to inspire us to work for the well-being of all.
As a church and charity we hope that our new building will be a creative, accessible and welcoming hub and we are open to anybody using it. We are particularly passionate that high quality, locally made food and coffee should not be set a premium cost, so we have set all our hot and cold drinks, cakes and food at prices we think most people can access.
We hope that the Beehive, alongside other projects and events running from the new BGMC building will add to the vibrancy and creativity that already exists in Bethnal Green and we look forward to partnering with others so the community can benefit from this space.
The Beehive can be found at 305 Cambridge Heath Road and is open every day of the week.
Next in our Bethnal Greeners series are good friends of LoveBethnalGreen, Phytology, who are on the site of Bethnal Green Nature Reserve. It’s an art led project exploring the function, and value of the modern urban landscape, established and led by local artist Michael Smythe and the board of trustees. (www.phytology.org.uk)
We caught up with Hannah Arnott to hear about her research into the Urban Mind project. Hannah is a key player with Phytology, and will be at Oxford House for the meeting of ‘The Green’ on Tuesday 14th August to discuss Urban Mind and its exploration of social inclusion and neighbourhood safety in the Bethnal Green area.
Phytology is located within Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, formally St Jude’s church before it was bombed in the Second World War. Since then, the local community have protected the land from development and in 2014 opened the successful Phytology medicine garden for local education and medicine harvesting.
The Phytology medicinal garden provides free food and medicine. Phytology is running an Urban Mind community research project, exploring the physical and mental health benefits and challenges we all experience living in Tower Hamlets and modern cities globally.
Your passion for the area:
Bethnal Green is a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood with people connecting and experiencing with the area in many different ways. Our project wants to better understand and explore ways we can all make our neighbourhood feel safer and more inclusive.
Join the research project by downloading the Urban Mind app (www.urbanmind.info) and taking part in conversations on how to improve the local social environment. We invite people to participate in a group discussion at Phytology on 25th August and 8th September.
You can help shape healthy and inclusive cities by being part of the community research, part of the international Urban Mind research project.
In our new series of longer conversations, ‘Bethnal Green; After Hours’, we’re shining a light on all of the fantastic businesses that make E2 such a vibrant place to be at night. The pubs, the clubs, the galleries, the restaurants & the bars – new & old – we’re blessed as an area with some hidden gems and some straight-up institutions that fly the flag for the ever changing, ever-beloved East End.
First up, we caught up with owner Paddy Walsh, from Cambridge Heath Road based music venue Redon. We’re lucky to have such a generous & knowledgeable music man in our midst – nice one, Paddy!
|● Hi Paddy, thanks for sparing the time? what you up to today?
Monday is my day of rest. After a hectic weekend at work, it’s the perfect time to put my feet up and enjoy the sunshine.
● Tell us a bit about Redon – how big is it? where is it and what’s the vision?
Redon is a 250 capacity music and performance venue, located in a Victorian railway arch on Cambridge Heath Road.
The vision was to create a no-nonsense live music venue with excellent sound quality and a well stocked bar. Over the years I’ve been to so many gigs that were ruined by poor sound quality, so getting the sound right at Redon was the first priority. We have installed a brand new Martin Audio PA, which sounds beautifully warm and clear. The decor is by no means flashy, but the space feels very atmospheric and intimate. In my opinion it’s a great place to watch a gig.
Lots of London venues have been closed down in recent years, often due to complaints about noise pollution. With this in mind, we extensively sound proofed the venue so that we can play music at a decent volume without disturbing our neighbours.
In case you were wondering, the name is a tribute to my favourite artist: the French symbolist painter Odilon Redon.
● Why Bethnal Green? Have you got a particular affinity with the area?
I love Bethnal Green. I’ve lived in the area for 14 years, and seen it change a great deal during that time. Gentrification has had a massive impact; the area still retains a multicultural identity but the disparity between the Haves and the Have Nots has never been greater. Personally I miss the more bohemian, arty vibe of yesteryear, but its still a cool neighbourhood with lots to offer. I hope Redon is a welcome addition to the local music scene.
● How can we keep as many people as possible involved in cultural outputs at a time when the area is developing so quickly?
Sadly, much of the artistic and creative community who used to gravitate here have been forced out of the area by sky high property prices. Personally I’d like to see live / work artist studios being subsidised to encourage that culture to thrive. Similarly, it would be great if music venues and recording studios were offered some protection and support by the local authorities. The powers that be have to ask themselves: what kind of a neighbourhood do you want this to be ? Vibrant and creative, or soulless and sanitised?
● Are there any nights you’ve had so far in Redon that have really stood out? What makes for a really memorable night from your point of view as the guy in charge?
We’ve hosted lots of great nights already, too many to mention in fact. One that really stood out for me was a Movimientos party back in April , with a live show by Let Drum Beat. The atmosphere was electric, and Let Drum Beat totally blew me away. If you haven’t heard of them yet, Let Drum Beat are an all-female, afro Brazilian band with a captivating, distinctive sound – I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for a week after that gig.
● Are there venues that you really look up to and are looking to replicate, or is Redon looking to strike brand new chords?
The Jazz Cafe in Camden is one of my favourite venues, I’ve been to countless gigs there over the years. It’s such an imitate venue, where you feel very connected with the musicians on stage. Total Refreshment Centre (TRC) is another inspiration; their programming is consistently excellent. Sadly TRC have been forced to close, at least temporarily. I’m not sure what the situation is exactly, but I hope they are back open again soon. London can’t afford to lose another music venue.
● What have you got coming up that our readers should be getting along to?
We aim to be as eclectic and inclusive as possible with our programming, so I hope there will be something that appeals to almost everyone. In the next few months, we have shows encompassing rock, hip hop, jazz, latin, house, disco and techno, and we’re open to pretty much anything! You can keep an eye on redonlive.com for details of forthcoming events.
This coming Saturday (30th June) we are very excited to welcome Brazilian Funk Legend Di Melo to play his first ever UK performance. This gig was scheduled to be take place at TRC, but following their recent issues we agreed to host the gig instead. I’d also strongly recommend Shakara Soul on 6th July. Their last party with Tim Garcia was amazing, and this time round they have Cedric Woo from Beauty and the Beat headlining the bill.
Finally, I’d like to give a plug to our Queer Cabaret nights, which take place every Thursday. We’ve teamed up with some of London’s best LGBTIQ promoters. who have helped us to create an inclusive and welcoming space for the community. The cabaret performers are often funny, sometimes thought provoking, occasionally outrageous and always entertaining.
● Finally any advice to anyone who’s keen on getting into the music venue game, but who doesn’t know how to get going?
Promoting a club night will teach you a lot of the skills you need, so that’s a good place to start. If you’ve managed to get a successful club night off the ground, you’ll be a good candidate for a job working in house at a venue like Redon.
When you’re ready to take the plunge and open your own venue – make sure you do a good feasibility study first! These days, all it takes is a few noise complaints to lose your license – so choose your location wisely and think carefully about how you plan to avoid disruption to local residents.
LoveBethnalGreen.com has a new weekly interview format, which will explore the great stuff that’s happening across the E2 area. It’s for those who don’t want to go deep, but want to be in the know.
First up, we have Oxford House. We caught up with CEO John Ryan so that he could test drive the Bethnal Greeners format. Each interviewee will be given 5 simple headings to respond to in no more than 30 words, offering our readers an angle on their past, their present and their future, all shot through with why it is they love Bethnal Green. Easy as that. Here we go then….
- Your history
Oxford House was established in 1884 as the first “settlement house” where students and graduates from Keble College, Oxford undertook a period of residential volunteering to learn first-hand about the realities of urban poverty.
- Your business
We provide affordable office space to organisations. We’re also a multipurpose arts centre with a theatre, gallery and dance studio. We provide a range of volunteering opportunities where you can gain valuable work skills.
- Your passion for the area
We’re part of the furniture in Bethnal Green, & have been for over a century. We look to reflect the community in our programming and in who we host, and always will. Long live Bethnal Green!
- Your offers
As a charity, we understand the need for flexibility and the importance of good value for money. For where we are, you’d struggle to find a better deal on space and we’re proud of that.
- Your future
We have exciting times ahead, with Heritage Lottery backed renovations on our Grade II listed building starting now! (see below!) We’ll have new cafe, offices and roof terrace for the community by 2019 + a new Cultural Programmer.
In the 2nd of our features from London College of Communication students, Amy Clarke meets black and grey tattoo royalty at Bethnal Green ink institution Lowerider Tattoo
The buzz of the needles at Lowrider Tattoo are a welcome noise to any ink lover. Situated on Bethnal Green Road, the studio boasts four talented artists; JP, Ken Carlos, Kingsley Hayward and Lux, as well as guest artists, and is open 7 days a week, 11.30 ‘til late, which is a rarity in London meaning you can have that tattoo done straight after leaving work. Pretty cool, huh?
With the founding Lowrider Tattoo shop in Los Angeles, East Londoners and those further afield in the UK can get a taste of the talent on offer right here in Bethnal Green. With superbly detailed fine black and grey work on offer, the artists are – not surprisingly – booked up well in advance, but do still offer walk-ins if there is something available. The area itself is seeing a rise in the demand for tattoos, and shops like this are producing quality work. Tattoo artist of eight years, JP, is a looming figure with his black and grey inked muscular arms, but the confident demeanor he portrays in his swagger is down to the fact he is a professional and has produced well executed work to be proud of. “A lot of people are seeing the potential of how good a tattoo can actually look, and there’s quite a few good shops in East London too. So as long as everyone keeps pushing out the quality work, the tattoo culture around here is gonna keep growing.” But has anybody ever asked for a Bethnal Green related tattoo? “Yeah, me and Lux have both done gangster tattoos of the Kray twins. Old School Bethnal Green!”
The shop is known for its relaxed, welcoming and ‘social club’ atmosphere – from friends and people popping into the studio, to the music and films playing in the background. JP knows only too well how lucky he is to be working in such a down-to-earth tattoo shop. “To be offered a spot in a shop that’s known for its luxury black and grey tattoo style, and also to work under one of the main pioneers of this sacred art, Jose Lopez, it was pretty much a no brainer for me [to join Lowrider Tattoo]. And I get to work with some of my best friends that I’ve known for six plus years. It was literally an offer I couldn’t refuse.” Most people who enter the industry take up an apprenticeship, spending months inking on anything but real skin, but it wasn’t the same for JP and his friend and fellow tattoo artist at the shop, Carlos, who found it hard to get their feet in the door. They spent days jumping from different tattoo shops, meeting and connecting with great artists. “None of the older guys wanted us youngsters getting into the game. Ken Carlos got his first tattoo machine passed onto him from a family friend [and] he did his first tattoo on me. I did mine on him and the rest is history.”
With Bethnal Green changing all the time, with its bars, cool shopping areas and local, independent businesses so close to ‘hipster’ areas like Shoreditch, and a short tube ride away from central London, it’s nice to find an area where local support thrives from business to business. “At the end of the day we’re all like neighbours so we all look after each other. We support them, they support us. It creates a better atmosphere on Bethnal Green Road.” But have they asked for a tattoo? “Of course!” JP laughs. “Some serious, and some joke about it. It’s all love.”
Lowrider Tattoo is at 311 Bethnal Green Road
Check out their instagram here