Cliftonville’s Skinny Dip coffee shop to trade for last time on January 1

Skinny Dip coffee shop in Cliftonville

A Cliftonville coffee shop that was named the most innovative in the UK just last month will close its doors next week.

Skinny Dip coffee shop in Northdown Road won the accolade in the Brita Professional inaugural Grounds of Innovation Awards.

But sadly the venue, which has just marked its third anniversary, will trade for the last time on January 1.

The venue was opened by Tom Denning and partner Amy Leaning amid the second covid lockdown in winter 2020 and  has supported isle artists by providing display space and worked with an nearby care home to give work experience to a young man with disabilities.

It is also the only shop in the UK to buy coffee solely from female farmers and producers, helping to readdress the gender imbalance in the global coffee supply chain.

But trading conditions have been tough this winter. Previously speaking to The Isle of Thanet News after winning the award, Tom said the business was navigating a difficult trading period with the focus on getting through to the Spring.

The dad-of-three added: “The future is uncertain for everybody with high street rent increases and declining customer spend.

“Summer is our strongest trading period, the challenge is what has happened since October – we are in recession but nobody talks about it.”

Skinny Dip coffee shop has not suffered rent increases but has experienced the drop in customer spending power.

In a social media post today (December 30) Tom said: “The time has come for Skinny Dip to close its doors. The last few months have been extremely challenging and as a small independent business, it is proving impossible to continue.

“I just want to say thank you to our amazing team who have tried so bloody hard to make it work – I’ll always be grateful – Thanet hospitality, please employ them!

“Thank you also to our fabulous customers who have been with us on this three year journey. Each and every one of you made it possible for us to enjoy the ride we had.

“Our last trading day will be January 1st 2024.

“We need to sell all our existing stock so there will be big discounts on all the retail. So come at us for one last Bodega! This is it! We are sad to say goodbye.”

Tom learnt his trade working for some six years at Margate’s Curve Coffee after leaving behind his former career in advertising.

He and Amy employ six staff in the off peak winter season with more people taken on to cope in the busy summer months.

Find Skinny Dip coffee at 235 Northdown Rd, Cliftonville; on facebook or Instagram

Community, creativity and equality at the heart of Cliftonville’s Skinny Dip coffee shop


    • Maybe they could have tried just going to the coffee supplier with the best value rather than discriminating to fit their ideology

  1. “It is also the only shop in the UK to buy coffee solely from female farmers and producers, helping to readdress the gender imbalance in the global coffee supply chain.”
    Well you’re not going to help that imbalance if you’ve gone bust, are you? Maybe you should have bought coffee from those toxic, patriarchal men and you might still be in business!

      • Do you honestly not have anything better to do with your life Peter? There are people trying to improve the high street, bring business to Margate, paying business rates and other taxes to benefit the local economy and services. You seem to bemoan any sort of investment and sit there with perverted glee when they fail.

        Many look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, is this really who I want to be today, a bitter old man?

        • (a) My name’s Ms. Pink
          (b) I don’t like being mis-gendered
          (c) I welcome inclusivity – and that includes people who grow coffee, trying to provide for their wives & children

          Now, I suggest you go back to Eve.

          • If you’ve changed your gender Peter them I’m Pat Butcher.

            Changing the name you post under on here is not changing your gender. Considering you replied under an article by McKinley as ‘Peter Checksfield’ a grovelling sycophantic response and then again replied as Ms.P I’m sure your gender change is on paper and purely to placate your many personalities.

          • Not sure what I have to do to prove it, short of turning up in a pink dress and dropping my knickers. But, please respect my choice.

            Love, Ms. Pink Xxx

        • Adam, you are wasting your time replying to Peter Checksfield. He is an attention-seeker and thinks nothing of making a comment purely to insult and upset people.

          • Another person more concerned with what I think than the subject of the news item. Don’t you have ANYTHING useful to say?

  2. Another trendy outlet that bites the dust yet again in Thanet. When will they learn that Margate isn’t Brigton and never will be!

    • Have you been to Brighton recently? It’s even worse than Margate, with people sleeping in tents in the High Street, and weeds in gutters as high as trees!

      • True. And if you have a walk around Brighton early on a Sunday morning you’ll find yourself ankle deep in litter.

  3. Rising rents, rising costs, and recession. Perfect storm for many businesses. Still, good news for the coffee shop haters who can now celebrate another empty shop, which they would seem to prefer to anyone trying to do something different

  4. 6 staff in the off peak season ? Specialising in buying in goods from female only suppliers? No wonder they can’t make any money, they are seriously over staffed and it seems they are paying premium price for the their goods.

    Shame they are going but the overheads could have potentially been trimmed significantly. Hope they have better luck on their next venture

  5. Why do commercial landlords keep increasing the rent to the point where their tenants can’t afford it? How much income do they expect to get from an empty property?
    I’ll miss this place, good coffee, good pastries too.

    • Without a breakdown of the businesses costs and liabilities, it’s a bit presumptuous to pick out the landlord as the cause of the closure.
      As pointed out in other comments the owner was operating under an ethical code that was likely to have been an additional cost to implement ( if only in the time it took to verify the source of the coffee etc) , much kudos for having standards and wanting to maintain them , but it pushes the product you serve into a small niche in an area that is largely occupied by very cost concious residents, it’s probably a few years too early in the gentrification of cliftonville for such a business.
      Hopefully the decision to close by the owner is a pragmatic one and allows them to move on in life having learnt what does/doesn’t work , and so armed, the next venture is the better for it.

    • Hi- just an FYI the rent has not been increased since skinnydip’s tenancy in-spite of rent increases agreed in the lease that could have taken effect a year ago because as a landlord I did my best to support the shop, because they have been great tenants who I’d expected to be there for longer. So rent increases have litterely nothing to do with anything. Tom has actually apologised on behalf of isle of Thanet news’s sloppy reporting; taking sections of a phone interview from two months ago out of context to fit the narrative of the story.

      Pretty disappointing but not as disappointing as losing a great cafe and a venue for loads of fun social stuff. Skinnydip will be missed for sure

      • The interview wasn’t two months ago, it was in December, and it doesn’t say Skinny Dip rent had increased, he was talking about trading conditions for the whole high street. It is also quite clear when the quote was from as it says speaking to IOTN after the award.

        • While that may be true- I wasn’t part of the interview so I don’t know the dates beyond what Tom felt the need to apologise for, it’s adequately unclear that people have felt the need to comment of the ineptness of the landlords in reading the room…

          • I apologise if it has come across as you increasing the rent, I was just recapping on what Tom had previously said about recession/trading. I will add a line to say Skinny Dip hadn’t experienced rent increases

        • “The future is uncertain for everybody with high street rent increases and declining customer spend.”

          Surely, that implies that his own rent had increased?

          • Those are his words talking about difficult trading conditions in an interview in mid December. I wasn’t trying to imply anything other than he had talked about difficult times and a recession

          • I meant HE was implying rather than you Kathy. From the interview, did you believe that his rent had increased? It certainly gave me (as a reader) that impression.

        • Probs a genuine mistake- but the implication is kind of that it was a circumstance that lead to closure because of the very different context of this article to the article Tom was interviewed for. I’ve had two days of people ringing me being angry on my behalf about it, because the rent is lower than recommended by local estate agents. Anyway water under the bridge, I accept your apology for the error in perpetuity…. The ms pink dweeb is getting behind my cause so I feel like I’ve accidentally landed in the wrong camp! ABORT ABORT!

          • I’ve added a line to it to make clear there was not a rent increase but Tom did talk about high street trading/rents and recession and that is relevant (and accurate) considering it was within a 2 week timeframe. The same details are in the first article (published December 19th, interview Dec 18th) so my apology was for people thinking that you had raised rent when I was recapping on what was said about trading conditions rather than for including it. It’s not sloppy or an error to include relevant details, particularly as I didn’t steer the interview in that direction when we were talking about the award, but equally once you raised the issue I did something to clarify it.

      • In that case I’ll withdraw my implication that the landlord was responsible for the business’s problems and apologise for making it in the first place. Sorry.

  6. What a shame.. and no surprise that the regular lot are crowing on here as they’d prefer things to be shut if they don’t adhere to their narrow world view. Speaks volumes that saddos spend their life waiting for local news stories to comment on rather contributing anything positive to the community.

    Beyond pervy books no one is interested in.

    • In that case, don’t you think it would’ve made more business sense to open an adult book shop rather than yet another coffee shop? If your statement is true, then there’s obviously an untapped market in that area.

  7. Shame, there are several similar food establishments in Northdown Road, clearly more than customers can support.

  8. Lily Checksfield, it is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all, don’t you think?.
    Coffee shops lend themselves quite well to a clientele,that is looking for something a little different,but not everywhere and not all the time.
    I could suggest to you that the extremely non ‘woke’ Wilko’s failed badly this year,so your theory if such it is, does not hold true.
    Opening a tea or coffee shop is hard work and maintaining it’s momentum is even harder,so unless you have tried it,I would suggest to you that silence is golden.

    • You obviously drink far too much of the stuff. That would explain your anger issues and ranting, over-long posts.

      Try some calming camomile tea, or a cup of ovaltine.

  9. What anger issues? Not everything can be explained with a cheap snidy comment based on ignorance.
    Camomile tea and Ovaltine that explains a lot.
    Can you still buy Ovaltine?

  10. Beautiful place, amazing coffee and food. It will be missed.

    Those above taking it out on their high quality and ethical supply chain, try punching up for once.

    Think rising energy costs, business rates, things like that..

  11. The retrofit to a different gender may have worked,but it’s the same Peter Checksfield inside.Its like changing the bodywork on a car, but leaving it with same engine.
    How about a character transformation as well, something less nasty and self righteous.

  12. Behind all this guff about Lily the Pink, we have lost sight of the fact that the business has failed for whatever reason,and that is sad and not something to be the cause of gloating.

    • YOU are the one who mentions me in every comment. But let’s get things in perspective: it’s a cafe in Northdown Road, not a greengrocers, fishmongers, bookshop, or anything else that is fast disappearing from our high streets.

  13. It is a shame that another business has failed on Northdown Road, but it shouldn’t be surprising and to be honest it’s more of a shame that the DFL/progressive types seem to never learn. It’s the same old story, cost of living, high rents and the “Majors” pushing them out, but in actual fact it’s thier own high prices. This is proven time and time again. Anyone remember KG Winters Grocery store at the top end of Northdown Road? They gave the same excuses with the crux being they couldn’t compete with the majors. They still had the audacity to charge 4 X the price of a bunch of bananas than the Aldi across the road. Neighbouring towns such as Westgate and Birchington have independent shops and cafes amongst majors such as Sainsbury’s and co-op and both thrive. There is a cost of living crises there aswell. Let’s see how the new heavily priced butchers across the road from an established butcher on Northdown road lasts. My guess is they will be next if they don’t start to be realistic

    • The problem is, very few business owners do proper research. If they did, they’d (say) open a micro pub in Acol, a supermarket in Cliffsend, and a fish stall in Minnis Bay.

      As for Westgate and Birchington, I honestly believe that small businesses survive more because there are so many older people – who grew up visiting several different shops for their weekly shopping. Young people like to pull up in their cars and get everything from one store.

  14. I visited a few times. It was all a bit preachy and self righteous. I prefer more inclusive, welcoming spaces to spend money, so never returned.

    • Cafe on the square in Birchington and cafe grill in Broadstairs are two places that get it right. Unpretentious, lowish prices, big portions – and run by hard-working Europeans instead of weirdy-beardy Londoners.

    • Is it too much to believe that not everyone else in Thanet shares your blinkered and bitter views?

      Go and have a lie down with Eve (and watch out for that snake!).

    • In our household we hold regular “spot the Checksfield” competitions, to see who can identify the most aliases (s)he’s used that day.
      Sometimes it gets a bit tricky, because (s)he doesn’t seem quite to know who (s)he is her/him/itself.

  15. I visited this cafe a few times and found it to be a very enjoyable experience that offered delicious coffee so will be sad to see it go. I wish them well in future ventures.
    Also, as 2024 approaches, is it too much to ask that we can enjoy reading the articles in IOTN and debating them without all the tedious, attention-seeking from trolls who wish to make everything about themselves. They remind me of toddlers who utter a swear word because they enjoy the reaction that they get. Ignore them and they’ll soon get bored and stop doing it

    • I just learnt that they didn’t take cash, yet another thing that would put many off (I for one rarely carry cards with me when strolling out for a cuppa).

  16. Sad that they are closing, great coffee and lovely people. Very hard for a small business in the current climate. I wish the owners well for the future.

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