The former Rendezvous restaurant premises in Cliftonville’s Ethelbert Crescent has been taken over to provide a community shop, social space and ice cream parlour.
Under the banner of Bread and Roses the building at 16 Ethelbert Crescent is housing a new addition to the MiCommunity shop, which provides cut-priced food and household goods for people on benefits and low wages.
The Cliftonville space is in addition to the current store in Margate High Street.
The main restaurant area is to be converted into a social meeting space with kitchens and Sweet Caroline ice cream parlour as part of a new project by Sharon Goodyer – who founded and formerly ran Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet – and businessman Steve Ralf who has recently returned to the isle.
The MiCommunity store opened today (October 2) and has seen a steady flow of customers, says founder John Finnegan.
He added: “We cover Margate and Westgate with our shop in the High Street and that covered some of Cliftonville but there is a big catchment of the area that wasn’t covered.
“There is a need for the shop in this area. People need to become members but do not have to be on benefits.
“We are making the best use of the space although our biggest issue at the moment is storage.
“It will be hard work running two shops, we also still do the voucher scheme for people referred and free food, but we have Sue (Mills) who is our manager here.”
The second part of the site is not yet ready to open but the aim is to create somewhere for people to socialise and enjoy treats as well as worrying about necessities.
Sharon said: “It will be a social lounge and the ice cream parlour. There are huge kitchens at the back so we will be producing healthy meals.
“We want it to be special and extremely welcoming, we want to be about having loveliness in our lives. We need to be kind to ourselves so this is about having colour and fun. The social lounge will be the powerhouse of the enterprise, we want people to come together as a community. We won’t be signposting people to other services, we will be delivering.”
Sharon retired from Our Kitchen, and the Our Shop projects in Margate and Ramsgate, last year and the scheme was taken over by Social Enterprise Kent (SEK). Sadly the Margate Our Shop was closed by SEK but the Ramsgate one in St George’s Church hall continues to run.
At today’s launch Sharon and volunteers, alongside supporter County Councillor Barry Lewis, had a stall of fresh produce outside which was being given away free.
The produce was being provided by Jamie Fassam (pictured above), who said: “I work for community projects and it is a good thing to be able to feed Margate and educate people about healthy eating and about seasonal produce.”
MiCommunity Cliftonville shop is open Monday to Saturday 10am till 3pm. An official opening event takes place this Friday (October 6) 3.30pm-5pm and is open to all who would like the chance to meet the volunteers and find out more about MICommunity aims.