Like all Kentishtowners – and many Londoners generally – we have a very soft spot for Fortess Road’s longrunning ice cream parlour. Favourite flavour? Why, the seasonal Campari Blood Orange, of course, while the classic chocolate (pictured below) is a year-round
Our personal stories also intertwine as owner Julie Fisher set up shop just when Kentishtowner started to find a large local audience way back in 2011. And back then, we all scratched each other’s backs a bit in a very neighbourhood-style way.
Over the next decade we followed the store – and Fortess Road’s rise – as a magnet for independent shops, and when Julie opened her second outlet behind the new Waitrose in King’s Cross we were positively chuffed for her.
But now, in these difficult times, it’s all change. “We’re really sad to say that we will be closing our Tufnell Park parlour for the final time on September 26th,” she says.
“At the start of 2019 we were making plans to move our ice cream production from our tiny NW5 kitchen to a more practical unit and to then expand the parlour seating into that space so as to restore its vibrancy and energy. Then the dark days of lockdown came and with it our enforced closure. Throughout this time we were sustained only by locals’ generous support of our home delivery service.”
So what’s been the final straw? You guessed it, landlords. “With the high street in crisis, and small businesses struggling to survive in this time of great uncertainty,” she says, “our landlord has decided that now is the appropriate time to force an increase of rent on us, even trying to tie this into a lease without a break clause. Ultimatums have followed without dialogue, discussion or compromise exemplifying a new bullish approach that can be summarised as ‘sign’ or ‘get out’. This has forced us to re-think our future, and how it is possible to remain viable in this climate. Regrettably we have no choice other than to leave.”
She says it’s been an “incredibly difficult and emotional decision. Our heart is in Tufnell Park and it was here where it all started for us ten years ago. We have loved being part of the Fortess Road community, with its eclectic mix of shops and enthusiastic, encouraging, inspiring customers – and we have put our heart and soul into our parlour.”
Is there a glimmer of hope? “We’ll continue to explore ideas and opportunities that will allow us to remain in the area,” she says. “The last 10 years have been a massive part of my life. Thank you to everyone who has visited our parlour, encouraged us and supported us. King’s Cross is not far away – and we hope that you will be able to visit us there.”
Ruby Violet, 118 Fortess Rd, London NW5 2HL closes on 26th September. UK delivery will be free to local NW5 customers for the next 6 months.