It’s the stuff Mary Portas’ wildest high street dreams are surely made of. In the space of a few months, Tufnell Park will have gained an independent butcher, a fishmonger, seen its flagship interiors shop expand (with a brand new kids shop ready to take their old site too, we hear), and now the arcade is preparing to welcome an all-new outlet.
The intriguingly named Bear+Wolf is set to open early next month at the Tuffers end of Fortess Rd in the space that was, until recently, occupied by Books For Free. Contrary to what some of you might expect, it’s not the parade’s first hip gay cocktail bar (shame!); instead, it’s an “exceptionally kid-friendly cafe”, says owner Matthew Neel. “We’ll be selling Ozone coffee, artisan bread and baked goods from Flourish Bakery in Tottenham, our own home-made range of cakes and cookies, plus a small breakfast and lunch menu.”
Matthew is the guy who previously ran the raw food café at bendy Primrose Hill institution Triyoga. More recently he’s been at St John’s Tavern on Junction Rd while looking for a site of his own, and also running BabyFolk, a toddler music group at Highgate Chapel on Chetwynd Road.
Sticking with the new indy spirit of the area, he’ll be sourcing ingredients from neighbours MeatNW5 and Jonathan Norris, plus bringing those oh-so-healthy smoothies that wowed the yogis of NW3 to the menu too.
But key to the whole operation is having a dedicated area for kids at the back of the café, stuffed to the gills with toys, books, puzzles and games, plus buggy parking, baby changing and plenty of kid-friendly foods and drinks on offer.
“All this comes from living in the area with a 4-year-old daughter, and spending most of that time pounding the streets looking for somewhere nice to go,” says Matthew. “Basically, I’m trying to create the perfect café for parents.”
And while that may put the fear into anyone without their own little darlings in tow, the play area should theoretically keep younger customers blissfully occupied, so the adults can enjoy some peace at the front. That’s the theory anyway. We get to try it all out for real in a couple of weeks.