Given how far Shoreditch has come as a major London destination – for people to live, business to trade and indeed for tourists to visit – you’d think the streets would have given in ages ago to the inevitable presence of Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero. But not so. Starbucks and Cafe Nero have locations on City Road and Costa has managed to get into Commercial Street, but none of the big three has infiltrated the Shoreditch core.
There was a time when a covenant from a big corporate occupier would be an enticing prospect for a landlord – usually, they could expect a higher rent and perhaps some kind of cushion against their tenant going out of business. But in Shoreditch, the normal rules of engagement simply don’t apply.
Here, the very last thing a funky creative enterprise wants downstairs is a corporate coffee shop. They are a positive turn-off for independently minded, entrepreneurial creatives. The phrase, ”Let’s meet in Starbucks”, is simply not on their lips when it comes to arranging an informal meeting with a client or employee.
And with many new buildings in Shoreditch having open cafes to the main reception lobbies, it’ll play havoc with your branding of a cutting-edge workplace – with equally cutting rents – to deliver the onsite catering option with a Costa.
Don’t get us wrong, there is nothing wrong in our minds with the idea of large chains of coffee houses. Indeed, without Starbucks, we may never have had the proliferation of independent coffee shops that we now have, and certainly, the comfort level of the corporates has forced the independents to up their game on the seating front.
But we do love the resilience of independent Shoreditch. It has proved beyond doubt that gentrification and wealth do not have to mean an unstoppable invasion of bland homogeny. There is no GAP. There is no River Island. There is no NEXT.
The people have spoken and Shoreditch has a thriving scene of independent cafes, bars, restaurants and retailers that is totally beguiling: long may it reign.