Surely there’s room for both Wahaca and The Fruit Bowl?

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And a very obvious solution exists which would keep everyone happy…


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Sally Keable in front of the contested site. Photo: Stephen Emms
Sally Keable in front of the contested site. Photo: Stephen Emms
Heard the latest food fight to hit Kentish Town? The hip Mexican chain Wahaca is planning to take over former screen-printing business Fifth Column, which occupied the upper floors of Kentish Town tube station until late last year.

For the uninitiated, Wahaca is the Mexican streetfood mini-chain founded by Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers, who has been quoted as saying in the CNJ: “We have always loved Kentish Town for its quirky vibe that is cultured without being po-faced. It’s got a kind of easygoing intelligence about it that’s really attractive, and a close community feel.”

Chicken quesadillas at Wahaca
Chicken quesadillas at Wahaca

The arrival of her restaurant is undoubtedly a good thing for the area’s eating options – but there’s one rather large sticking point. TFL, who own the building, want uber-popular fruit and veg stall The Fruit Bowl, run by Sally Keable and Bajram Zeqiri, to move out in January.

Which is ridiculous, of course. This is a stall that almost every local uses regularly, and one that we love so much that Sally is even starring in our new December print issue (out next week).

And, if it is forced to move, surely there’s one simple solution to the fuss, isn’t there? The Fruit Bowl should be allowed to relocate to the still underused canopy area, where it was originally.

Furthermore, shouldn’t it be part of a larger daily Borough-style food market under said canopy which would brighten up a spot whose current saviours are only flower queen Natasha and coffee cart Bean About Town?

That is, of course, if it has to relocate at all. Tell us your thoughts below and we’ll pass this all on to the relevant bigwigs.


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  • Show Comments

  • Tristan

    The only place on the high street you can find certain things – like chanterelle mushrooms

  • Stuart

    They should definitely get to move under the canopy, then we can try and get rid of that annoying gang of drunks who seem to be there 24/7.

    • DS

      Annoying? They are the oracles of Kentish Town.

    • Mina

      Couldn’t agree more Steve!

    • Debbie Humphry

      Has anyone asked them if they want to move under the canopy? I think they want to stay where they are. Planning consultation is still open, you can write and defend their space which was promised to them by the council until 2018. Application ref 2104/6620/P; associated ref 2014/4357/PRE; contact Jonathan McClue. write or email until 4th December. Link for planning comments is:
      http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/contacts/council-contacts/environment/contact-the-duty-planner.en

      • Laurel

        Thanks Debbie. On it and I hope everyone else here will too

    • murphy rocks

      i agree – use the canopy and rid Kentish town of the dossers and he drunks…

  • Mike

    Take away the seating under the canopy and move them there. The seating area currently serves no purpose other than for drunks to congregate.

    • Alex Mo

      so true……it’s dirty and disgraceful

      • Turkanaboy

        Indeed, recently turned the corner to find one of them defecating in a wheelybin

  • Holly

    Absolutely would welcome Wahaca (who can say no to Mexican?!) but not at the expensive of a local business. I think the fruit bowl would be great under the canopy with Natasha and Bean about Town. There’s enough space there and it would only serve to bring the space to life more.

  • Noemie

    If you have a chain like Wahaca instead of an independent veg stall, Kentish Town high street will become even more like other high streets: yet another bland clone !

    • Laurel

      Absolutely. I also think once the novelty had worn off, the venture would ultimately fail, being much more suited to the central venues where it has done so well.

  • Cecily Pigeon

    Stop bashing the drunks! They also need somewhere to go.

    • Stuart

      I thought they’d actually been moved on recently, I saw some community police having a word and then a few of them would appear on the bench outside Earth. But they all seem to be back now. They do help the girls with the flowers though, and probably get a few quid for a can of Super for their troubles. I’m a bit obsessed with these drunks.

    • PrinceofWalesDaniel

      I wouldn’t mind them so much but a couple of times in recent months I’ve seen one of them urinating against the back wall and none of us want that.

    • Laurel

      Exactly!

    • Alex Mo

      What about in your courtyard or on your doorstep?

      • Laurel

        well if they will keep turning all the public loos into bars…

    • Al

      Well said Cecily! The drunks have never once caused me a problem in 10 years of walking past that spot.

  • thesnackqueen

    I will welcome wahaca with open arms but not if the veg stall has to go! Definitely allow them to stay put or move back under the canopy – either way it doesn’t have to be either or. This is exactly how these debates get so heated – if chains could somehow manage to move in without mucking everything else up we wouldn’t hate on them so much.

    • phill

      If you read the CNJ piece. (http://www.camdennewjournal.com/Kentish-Town-fruit-stall#.VHZKipA3BwU.twitter) Wahaca say they were offered the site a year ago and were told the fruit stall was definitely moving.

      TFL seem like the ones to blame here.

      I like the idea of the under the canapy, although they lose any storage ability.

      • phill

        Apologies for misspelling canopy

        • Neil

          Fruit and veg should be on a canapy, perhaps with some smoked salmon and a glass of champers, not under it.

      • Debbie Humphry

        No I went to visit the Fruit bowl yesterday and find out what they want. They want to stay, they are VERY upset, they were told in 2012 by the council they could stay there until 2018 . they have been there 13 years. Why should they have to move? let Wahaca go under the canopy!

        • Tom

          Alas, it’s TfL and not Camden Council which is making the decision.

        • Laurel

          that’s a great idea! a burrito bar under the canopy would win my vote!

  • Neil

    That’s a good plan. Would seem ridiculous for it for the fruit stand to have to close for Wahaca, however welcome it would otherwise be. Under the canopy at the expense of the chairs seems a good idea – they could even more the chairs to some of the other wide bits of pavement around – maybe get rid of or make better use of the space where the sign for the industrial estate is.

  • Bertie

    Nifty idea KTowner
    +1 for the move of the Fruit Bowl under the canopy
    +1 for welcoming Wahaca on this part of the high street
    TFL should prob reach out to Camden council to get this sorted out pronto

  • Joy

    Entirely agree! It was my first thought as I stood waiting for the C2 and read the sign on the railings. Coffee, flowers and fruit & vege under the canopy.

  • Chris

    Save the Fruit Bowl! The prospect of losing an excellent local grocer for the sake of a mediocre chain is an appalling one.

    I’ve been worried for a while that the new-found trendiness of Kentish Town is about to tip over into Fulham-esque blandess. We appear to be reaching that point.

  • Laurel

    The Fruit Bowl serves the community on a daily basis. ..Wahaca is all very well but how often would you actually eat there? When there are so many great independent places to eat in Kentish Town. ..a couple of times a year? Now ask yourself how many times a week you pick something up from the Fruit Bowl. Yes if they can be accommodated under the canopy that might work but can’t really see why they shouldn’t stay put

    • Debbie Humphry

      Plus people with less money need cheap fruit and veg they can cook for themselves at home – not everyone can afford take-aways!

  • christelle

    Is there anything we can do about it? The Fruit Bowl is at the heart of KT and what makes it a nice humane place to live. I would be distraught to see it go.

  • christelle

    furthermore there are plenty of empty shops for Wahaca to occupy in KT!

  • fay

    Please let us keep our beloved fruit bowl! I love the idea of it joining Natasha. Wahaca will be great but as someone else said its not something is locals would use on a regular basis. We need our fruit and veg daily!
    Please keep us posted kentishtowner

  • Belinda

    The Fruit Bowl is a really valued part of the community in Kentish Town and should not be moved on. Another solution – Wahaca upstairs and The Fruit Bowl downstairs?

    • Greg

      Fruit Bowl defiantly more valuable to the area.

    • Debbie Humphry

      Yes good idea – why do we assume the Fruitbowl will have to move, planning application still in consulatation stage – see my earlier post, please write and protest.

  • Katie K

    Really good idea to move them under the canopy, would be a great use of the space and would ease the pavement by the station too.

  • Clare

    Who needs enough fruit & veg to feed a family for a week when you can have a mojito?

    This is what you get with the constant pushing of the “cocktail quarter”. First there are independents and all is fine and hip but then the rents go up and the big boys move in.

  • AB

    This is great news for Kentish town, a step in the right direction. I for one will look forward to eating in Wahaca in a interesting location/building

    As for the fruitbowl I’ve never quite understood it’s placement, it’s in the way in the busiest part of the high street. I don’t like my veg with a dashing of C2/393 smog so if they were offered the empty shops at an attractive rate I would be more than happy to support them.

  • Ed

    Moving the fruit bowl under the canopy would also make that tiny bit of pavement open up massively. Its always seemed odd to me having a market stall making the busiest part of the high street also the narrowest. Move the fruit bowl, open Wahaca, win win.

  • Sue Odell

    Yes – moving The Fruit Bowl to under the ‘canopy’ would make the top end of the high street look really lovely, colourful and welcoming to the people in buses and cars driving south…much better than the cramped stall it is now…invisible from the road….and how much nicer it would be to stand under the canopy choosing fruit and veg than being shoved and pushed by commuters and pedestrians when one is trying to shop there in its present location.

  • Paulo Rodrigues

    I think Wahaca should offer the fruit bowl a mexican makeover to integrate both businesses into the space and brighten the area up

  • masteroftheceremonies

    But where will the alchys sit? And can you trust a Mexican restaurant that can’t even spell Oaxaca? I predict a fruitbowl riot.

  • Ana martins

    Yes,yes,yes! I so agre with you. I walk past every day it it bugs me how that space is so poorly used. Flowers, fruit & veggies, with coffee & biscuits would be prefect!

  • rosieb

    Another chain, and ktown becomes just the same as everywhere. The knock-on is that it will also impact negatively on independent community minded businesses like flapjacks café.

  • Tom Moxham

    The fruit bowl is one of, if not the cornerstone of Kentish Town. As TKT have said, I think most would welcome a stunning eatery like Wahaca but I think few would accept it at the sacrifice of the Fruit Bowl. It’s a fruit bowl move to the canopy or no deal for me.

  • EveKentishTown

    There are 600 calories in one Wahaca burrito – keep the fresh fruit and veg stall. We don’t need more fast food…….. people are being LAZY…

  • Sharon

    Noooo! I love the fruit bowl, always shop there and always surprised by the amount of change I get.

  • Stanton Carlisle

    Sarah’s nice but the Polish guy who works there can be obnoxious when he has a hangover. Knocking it’s cornerstone status for six big ones. Service with a smile and sense of welcome is an underrated virtue. even if you’d had a skinfull the night before. I’m glad that there’s another fruit stall nearby in Islip Street where all the staff are friendly. Hurray for friendly fruit stalls and a pox on Wahaca and grumpy Poles.

    • Ewelina

      hmm I think those guys are Albanian not Polish…

  • Phil Cowan

    Yet again the culprit here is the landlord, in this case TFL, who are willing to boot out a perfectly viable and clearly much appreciated business in pursuit of bigger bucks that the chains can always offer.
    A word of caution to the mexican outfit and the landlord. Take a look back at Space Nk’s experience in Primrose Hill.
    Both the landlord and the chain underwent a huge amount of negative publicity in that case.
    Result is a deserted store that is still actively boycotted by locals.
    Long live the Fruit Bowl in it’s established position!
    Wahaca should be looking to enhance the High Street by taking on an already empty premises instead of turfing out an existing business. Social responsibility is a well recognised currency in communities.
    Better result all round for everyone.

  • maryc

    the fruit bowl stays. that’s it. note tghwtwahaca was offered the building by tfl, they didn’t come looking and I bet u they are being offered preferred rates. these guys work hard ad for long hours and I love the idiosyncrasy of its position. fruitbowl or boycott.

  • EDR

    Just what the area needs, another poncey restaurant instead of essential shops and services. If I want to eat at Wahaca, I can travel down to Covent Garden, but I do rather like to do my shopping on the high street.

  • Melissa

    We don’t need Wahaca, let it open somewhere else.
    As we buy fresh veg and fruit at fruit bowl on a daily basis. If they move to under the canopy, there will be no storage for them to store the vegetables and fruits. I feel sad if they move out of the current place.

  • JJ

    Big customers of the Fruit Bowl here, don’t want to see them go, and if they have to move, under the canopy would be perfect. Those seats don’t serve the community, they are indeed covered in beer and urine. I’m sure the other two businesses under the canopy, flowers and coffee, would be happier to spend their working hours with such neighbours rather than enduring the current parasites…
    Good news of the arrival of Mexican food to an interesting building on the High street.

  • Deodato

    Move the fruit bowl under the shelter so we have a three-way combo of fruit, flowers and coffee. It’s cool having the Fruit Bowl by the tube station but it can be a bit like whacky races in the morning due to the limited pavement space – so the shelter makes more sense. The Fruit Bowl staff are the best – super friendly, co-operative – they are up against an abundance of supermarkets and still hold their own.

  • Tom

    The Fruit Bowl should definitely be allowed to move to the canopy.

    Win – win for everyone. They’d get more passing footfall who’d stop and shop. The present site is a funnel which turns me off. We get coralled between shoppers and pedestrians and buggy/pram pushers as we pass.

    The fruit and veg stall by the Co-op is pretty good too, and not so grumpy as the Polish guy at the Fruit Bowl.

  • Fred

    Corner stone of Kentish Town? Clearly anyone who thinks that hasn’t lived in the area for very long. Wahaca will be using all the space previously occupied by Fifth Column, not the pavement, which is where most of the Fruit Bowl’s space appears to be located. There are plenty of vacant retail premises in the area of a size that would suit the Fruit Bowl and make shopping there a rather more salubrious experience than it is at present.

    I notice that the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum has surfaced in the CNJ to comment on this matter. I wonder where they have been for the past 8 months or so? The KTNF appears to have been moribund since last March. Maybe Kentishtowner should investigate what’s happened to this group and its much vaunted neighbourhood plan?

  • Cat

    The Fruit Bowl MUST stay – walking past it many times a day always inspires me to be more adventurous with my cooking. TfL and the Mayor have a responsibility to get people eating more fruit and vegetables every day so turfing out something healthy is wrong. Hopefully, as suggested, it can be moved or allowed to stay put.

  • lastdaysonmars

    I understand the key issue is storage – the Fruit Bowl currently use the little lock up space directly behind the stall. Their stall doesn’t conflict with the upstairs space where Wahaca will be, but either TFL or Wahacca don’t seem to want the Fruit Bowl by their entrance, or taking up the storage that they need.

    I would think there should be a solution where both could co-exist?

    Otherwise – yes to getting rid of those iron chairs and replacing with the Fruit Bowl! Its been getting really bad there recently… can get quite intimidating with young children when they are all drunk and in full rant.

    • Tom

      Not so sure about storage really being a deal breaker.

      The excellent fruit and veg stall by the Co-op doesn’t have a lock-up storage. Indeed, that stall’s been operating for far longer with the same friendly owners than the Fruit Bowl – I recall when it was sited across the road on what is now the Oxford pub’s outdoor seating area (I remember the Vulture’s Perch and Jorene Celeste too before the Oxford came into being).

  • PB

    Last part of the quote in this article which the chef Thomasina said is “…close community feel.” about Kentish Town…
    And now they want to get rid of something which is actually creating the community…
    Can you see the logic….

  • Highstreet Ken

    Under the canopy makes perfect sense…nuff said.

  • Sarah

    Save The Fruit Bowl! Wahaca seems out of place in that location, especially if replacing such a local establishment. Let’s boycott the move, keep the Fruit Bowl where it is and convince Mestizo to open a taco stall under the canopy instead.

  • Bruneau

    Using an empty shop in the high street to relocate the fruit bowl makes sense. Fruits and vegetables would be definitely less exposed to pollution, and it would be easier to shop there.

  • Fred

    A “taco stall” is not exactly what Wahaca is about. How can you boycott a move? The Fruit Bowl is a business and TfL is not a charity. There are plenty of other fruit and veg outlets in Kentish Town Road, bigging this up into some sort of community issue (and some local politicians are already jumping on the bandwagon) is pure nonsense.

  • DJT

    I think we need all the fruit and veg stalls we can get! And the Fruit Bowl provide a 7 day a week service, at reasonable prices, and actually know their customers! They often give free bananas to children – certainly beats the “sweet temptation” displays they make you queue at in the supermarkets. It sounds as if somebody at TFL has made this heartless decision – anybody know who we can write to at an appropriate level in the organisation?

  • Kay Hyman

    As a regular customer, I hope Flower Bowl will stay long term (on either site). A fantastic range of fruit ‘n veg at great prices (no moody service noted).
    Re the “drunks” arousing such “disgust” among some commenters, there has been inebriation on and around that site at least since the mid-eighteenth century so the current participants probably count as Heritage! Seriously, a more positive attitude to the “drunks” and their problematic behaviour (constructive interaction – reinventing the canopy area could be an opportunity) would be welcome – just cleansing them away “in disgust” to annoy other people is a bit “suburban” for KT (no offence to anyone!) Perhaps I’ve been here too long … Luv ‘n Peace KH

  • Paul Shearsmith

    Thomasina Miers, who has been quoted as saying in the CNJ: “We have always loved Kentish Town for its quirky vibe that is cultured without being po-faced. It’s got a kind of easygoing intelligence about it that’s really attractive, and a close community feel.”
    Isn’t this the very thing they will be destroying?

  • Sabrina

    Camden should learn from their mistakes and use what they have allowed to happen to Hampstead “village” as a model for what NOT to do to its local, small businesses. There needs to be a healthy balance between small retailers and the chains, otherwise we risk losing all the charm of an area’s idiosyncracy in favour of charmless estate agencies and mobile phone shops.

  • Dr Nick

    I’m all for Wahaca coming if the Fruit Bowl can be accomodated elsewhere. Quite frankly that whole tube building needs an overhaul and is rat infested. Anyone complaining about Wahaca’s prices can grab a frozen burrito across the road at Iceland.

    • kentish brown

      i can’t believe i actually live in a NIMBY stronghold – how did that happen to NW5? Chris – have you actually ever been to Fulham – the comparison is beyond laughable. Laurel, the fellas on the beers taking a pee against the wall were doing that before and after the public loos were propositioned as a new bar. Ana Martins – you finished your sentence about moving on the drunks as ‘prefect’ – you and Laurel should meet. Both that space and the space above the tube have been unused. There can be no argument justifiable for leaving property unutilised. To say otherwise is to reject out of hand the requirements for Britain and London and Kentish Town and the next generation, their right to get back on their feet. If you’d prefer a boutique like Vi Vi Rouleaux to set up shop above the tube to ensure that you’d have a place to buy their wares instead of a mexican restaurant, or a cheese specialist like La Fromagerie – then you should be lobbying businesses like that you consider ‘more appropriate’ to your idea of the high street. Surely Marylebone High Street does conform to your idea of a high street that was decrepit in the early 90’s but has successfully reimagined itself with an engaged and forward thinking community offer encouragement to the right retail partners. But if Wahaca are the only company pitching then that’s fair game. With regards to moving the Fruit Bowl how on earth is the proposed relocation a significant move? You’d really prefer to have the fruit bowl where it is, the upstairs unused and still be able to complain about the ‘dirty and disgraceful’ drunks. There’s just no logic in any of that.
      + 1 move fruit bowl
      + 1 something to open above the tube
      + 1 move the drunks back to Falkland Road and see whether the NIMBY’s can find some charity in their hearts

  • The Fragas

    Just wrote to the Camden council. If you can, please write your comments to the link: http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/contacts/council-contacts/environment/contact-the-duty-planner.en; citing:Application ref 2104/6620/P; associated ref 2014/4357/PRE; contact person: Jonathan McClue

    It is really sad to hear our unique neighbourhood, consists of real people and lives, is slowly taken over by yet another commercial chain store.

    I hope Camden will take our comments seriously and consider working out a plan that can accommodate both the restaurant and the fruit and vegetable stall – as currently the restaurant plans to use the current stall location as a takeaway area.

    If anyone knows how to contact TFL about this, please kindly let me know. Thanks!