Meet the local who’s taking over the other Heath cafe


Benugo may have bagged the bandstand spot, but Tara Kingsley wants to create a real community hub with the Parliament Hill Lido cafe



Tara Kingsley, her husband Paul (second right) and friends outside the Lide Cafe. Photo:Gavin Fernback
Tara Kingsley, her husband Paul (second right) and friends outside the Lido Cafe. Photo:Gavin Fernback
So, Tara, why the Lido?
I’ve been a local resident for the past decade, and live in a 1930s house off Fleet Road, so my husband and I are both swimmers who frequent Prince of Wales Road baths and the Lido. And I have a family connection: my mum, who was born and raised in Farringdon Road, used to come here to swim when she was a little girl.

Post-dip, what can we expect on the menu?
We haven’t finalised everything, but our aim is to provide excellent quality, lovingly made coffee and herbal and non-herbal teas. It’s all about having an affordable offer: home-made soups, hot pies, cakes, fresh juices and smoothies, with hot and cold sandwiches, fresh fruit and so on.

Will the interior get a spruce-up?
We have a limited budget, so it’ll be quite modest, in keeping with the heritage thirties building it’s housed within. We hope to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and provide a much-needed hub for the community who have lost so many of their spaces and centres in recent years.

What did you make of last week’s news of the Benugo bandstand cafe take-over?
I was as shocked as everyone else when I heard. I’m a regular customer of theirs and my kids grew up eating their pasta.


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Attracting droves: the lido.
Attracting droves – for lunch as well as a swim: the lido.

What were you doing in a previous life?
I used to run the Bonhams Auction House Cafe in Lots Road, and before that the Tamarama Beach Cafe in Sydney in my twenties. I worked in the wonderful world of digital media production more recently, so my strengths are complex projects and making sure that they run on time, to budget and are of a great quality. Hopefully I’ll be applying these skills to the Parliament Hill Fields Lido Cafe!

Quite. When will it open?
The lease handover is scheduled in early May. A renovation project will follow thereafter and a temporary cafe will be set up within the Lido while these works take place. It’s worth adding that this is the first time the cafe has been open heathside as well as poolside – so now all heath users will be able to pop in and enjoy it.

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We’ll keep you posted on the re-opening. For more details on the cafe and if you would like to work with Tara and her team, head here.

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