How Many Is Too Many?

Elaine tells me that Laura, of the Nevada Street Deli, has been told by the council that she can only seat a maximum of eight customers in her delightful, but tiny, cafe and that’s got me to thinking. How many is too many in a cutesy little cafe that sells gorgeous food but is, frankly, very small?

I love the place – it looks good, the people are friendly and the food’s wonderful (though the ‘deli’ does seem to get smaller and smaller in comparison to the ‘cafe’). I am particularly fond of the savoury pastries, and I will be forever grateful for the the embarrassing time when I managed to order (and receive) a takeaway coffee before I realised I’d brought no money. Laura just gave me the beverage, though of course I was so mortified that I rushed straight round to the cashpoint to rectify the issue. 

It’s always a toss-up, though, as to whether I’ll get a seat or have to move on elsewhere. Like other favourite cafes – Royal Teas, Buenos Aires, Red Door, I have to take my chances, and that’s part of the charm of it. It’s small. But that doesn’t mean I want to be squashed in like a sardine, just to get a place. 

How many can a place this size realistically seat, one wonders? The council says eight, which I think is too few. Elaine tells me they can seat twelve to fifteen ‘comfortably’. I’m not sure I agree with that either. I’d like to know what you think. And whether you count the dreaded pushchairs in that figure.

Part of it comes down to whether or not there are large parties. People who know each other are much happier to squash up together than total strangers. That’s what makes us British. You could have a birthday tea for twenty all together and be quite happy one day. Another, one snogging couple, a pair of old ladies, one lone Phantom, a couple of mums and accompanying pushchairs and you’re full. Less of a problem in the summer, of course, when those lovely pavement tables are at a premium. 

So – how many would you say is ‘too many?’

Oh – and while the council’s exercising its brain, how about allowing the deli to open for pre-theatre snacks occasionally? Or the theatre could up its game. Either would do for me. Or – how’s about this – Laura could expand and provide pre-theatre yummies IN the theatre. I’m sure an agreement could be reached…


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Lauras deli elaine low


27 Comments to “How Many Is Too Many?”

  1. Pedro says:

    The council are probably being a bit stingy because of the way this place was opened as a deli but perhaps always had the intention of becoming a café? And they are trying to keep a balance between shops – of which we have few – and cafés, of which we have loads.

  2. Robert Number16 says:

    Dear Phantom.
    Re Numbers.
    I would like to draw all, to the attention of the new “Helva” restaurant in the town center that has set up a stall outside to give free drink away, to get people “in” Deaperados ( that so lives up to its name)Got a telling off a year or so ago for giving plastic glasses to people so they could stagger around outside with their drinks after closing.I understood the town center was a drink free zone on the pavements at all times. I feel I can talk on this subject, as I was very nearly murdered by some four drunken yobs who tried to break into my home at 2.10 am one morning a year or so ago.So do I give a damn if Laura has a few over eight “No”Please could “Helva” stop the free drink stall now!!

  3. Robert – with respect, Laura’s deli’s open during the day, mainly for coffee and snacks- hardly the same thing?

  4. Robert Number16 says:

    Oh, and while I`m in rant mode. Where the hell are the doors to the two telephone boxs outside the betting shop.( They were taken away for forensics re the very awful murder of the young man after an incident from one the watering holes along there)I send my heart feelings again to the family.
    Thought boxs were listed, and were in a worlg heritage site? Not very good show for the 2012 Olympics if Greenwich telephone box doors have fallen off

  5. Robert Number16 says:

    So sorry Desperados not Deaperados

  6. Robert Number16 says:

    Dear Phantom
    You are so right.I would rather the powers that be try and control the bigger players rather than pick on smaller operators.

  7. Pedro, I hear what you’re saying. I get the same thoughts about Red Door, which becomes less of a craft shop by the day. But you can hardly blame them – cafes bring in money, curios and deli items, however lovely, are a harder sell and smaller mark-up

  8. Richard says:

    Why not let the market decide how many cafes an area can support rather than the random thoughts of an unelected council worker?

  9. johnse18 says:

    I was in yesterday afternoon and there must have been 15-16 in – no problems, and there were enough chairs and table places. Given that there is an explicit shared tables policy (stated on the blackboard IIRC) I don’t see what the problem is, assuming people aren’t sitting on each other’s laps.

    I had never heard of such a place being restricted by number of customers before. They obviously don’t do it for pubs, where public order might be a real issue.

  10. Pedro says:

    It wasn’t a value judgement, phant, I like the place, excellent coffees and icecreams and I would always rather go there than Starbucks or Costa – it’s also much more of an amenity to the area than all those crappy mexican places. I can also understand why Laura has morphed from a deli to a café – simple economics.

    I was just pointing out that the council aren’t being entirely unreasonable, in that the shop opened as a deli without initially applying for A3 use when that seems to have been what Laura had in mind all along.

    It might not be an issue for us, but for people who live in the flats above, it will be. THis place is in a residential block, in a location that was a book shop for decades. And once A3 use is granted, if you live there, then there’s nothing to stop a burger bar or other fast-food place opening up in the place.

  11. Scott says:

    The number of 8 would come down to the number of toilet facilities available and the number of and width of the fire exits. The doors on that place are tiny. It’s got nothing to do with what’s comfortable.

  12. Dennis says:

    Eight?! That’s a trilfe harsh.

    Mind you, once the Fourth Armoured Perambulator Division has taken up residence in the Nevada St Deli, there’s only room for about four punters.

  13. Steve says:

    Maybe I imagined it but when I was last in Greenwich Theatre (Dec), I thought I saw a sign saying that the Nevada St Deli are in fact the caterers? Not that that was in evidence on the day I went – all they could offer in the way of hot food were tiny reheated “pizzas”.

    Why the pram-bashing? Weren’t you all babies once?

  14. Pedro says:

    It’s perfectly possible to love babies but get irritated by the barricades some selfish mums erect.

    If their latest Bugaboo or other “system” is indeed built like the tank it so resembles, it could surely stand being left outside?

  15. Luke says:

    I can echo the phantom’s comments re: their generosity, a lovely cafe, with a bunch of lovely staff.

    8 seems miniscule, can’t you fit 6 on the big table at the back alone?

  16. Richard says:

    Pedro, what if the baby is asleep? If you cant get past a pram then why not just try asking if they could move it for you?

  17. Pedro says:

    Richard, I’m a parent and love having kids around, but it’s always nicer when people show some consideration for others. Especially in a small café.

  18. scared of chives says:

    @ Richard – there’s not enough room to move the pram because the other pram (and one remaining customer) is in the way.

  19. nomorebabies says:

    I’ve never understood why, in response to anti baby observations, some say “weren’t you a baby once?”. I was once an obnoxious teenager too, doesn’t mean I have to be nice about today’s hideous examples.

  20. Lula says:

    I adore this cafe and if it’s down to fire regulations, I can understand that there has to be a limit, but equally, 8 does seem VERY stingy!! I admire people like Laura who are trying to make an honest living – and it’s great having more unique places around! After all, I think that Laura’s cafe is bigger than Starbucks, and I don’t think they have a numbers limit!?

    What is this restriction about? Use of building? Lack of toilets? Fire regulations? And what can be done to change things…

  21. Steve says:

    Nomorebabies – If you’ve never understood that, perhaps you haven’t yet grown out of your obnoxiousness. In any case, my remark was about the need for prams to put babies in, not a comment on their behaviour.

  22. nomorebabies says:

    Thanks Steve. Not really sure that helps with my understanding, but I salute your effort.
    I bought two of my Merino glass clowns in this shop when it was a bookshop cum antique shop – one of those shops that made Greenwich charming and special. The deli/cafe is delightful, what a shame we couldn’t have it in addition to the original shop.

  23. Humbug says:

    Pushchairs, wheelchairs, old folks and foreigners should all be banned outright. That ought to keep the numbers down

  24. PiratesPatch says:

    Why do some people on here think they can second guess what Laura was thinking!

    Do they know Jedi mind tricks and know what she is thinking or was intending for Nevada! Can they teach me!

    One would suspect that this great place and cracking Girl has just adapted in difficult times, making the most of what she has there and trying to ride the Labour induced storm of a recession.

    And now the obsessive PC council, who are more than Happy to let their paymasters, The GH, and Frank the yank do what they like as long as they stump up the cash are now throwing their weight around again at the wrong person and business!
    Pathetic.

    All l can say from a place doing the best chocolate Brownies in London, with an atmosphere only Frank the Yank and GH can dream of….Stay the Course!

  25. Frank-hater says:

    er? What are you on about? THe council tried to stop the GHE development. And there are both Tories and Labour on the planning committee. And AFAIK the recesssion is worldwide and not the province of any one party.

    THe Nevada opened without an A3 (food) licence. Greenwich, like every borough, tries to limit the number of cafés to encourage retail, too.

    Since it’s opened, the Nevada has introduced more seating, so it’s less of a deli, and more of a café. IN fact, it’s not really a deli at all now.

    I believe Laura recently applied for a A3 licence and was turned down. One interpretation of the current situation might be that Greenwich are not being ungenerous, 8 seats is quite a lot for somewhere that’s not a café.

    By the way, I love the place, although I prefer the idea of a deli AND coffee/snack place, to yet another cafe, even though the Nevada is better than many others.

    I have a feeling that Laura might start doing more deli stuff again including sausages – a food item for which, I believe, the Heap family is pretty famous.

  26. PiratesPatch says:

    When the branded names appear all over Greenwich whether at the new pier or New Market/hotel…..we will be thankful that at place like Nevada with some personality and charm as well fine individual food exists, if it survives, with the hoops these cretins make you jump through…that’s unless you, like some, you can sweeten the deal, fill the pockets with plenty of cash or a little pot of gold!

    I just think Laura will hope she can survive, what ever she decides to sell, or not sell, to her 8 people at a time!

  27. Twinmum says:

    I have twins which means I have a double buggy. Sometimes I smush my nose up against the window of a nice small independent cafe, wishing I could go in (on my way to costa which I can fit in). It would be nice if people were a bit more sympathetic to mums with pushchairs. If it was a wheelchair you would be – and babies can’t really get around without them.