Beachcomber – Another One Bites the Sand

Beachcomber - by Emo - ask and ye shall receive...

Something that has occurred to me as I begin this week is that although the Phantom photo archives are large and labyrinthine, there are huge gaps in them, many of them being the normal, everyday stuff of Greenwich life – precisely the sort of thing I miss from archives of the past – the shops, restaurants, streets, houses, people that I pass every day and whom it never occurs to me that one of those every days they won’t be there any more.

Maybe I need to get out more with my camera, taking more pictures of ‘nothing in particular;’ maybe I need one of every shop in Greenwich.

I sort of realised this when Kum Luang closed – that I didn’t have a picture of it open. Years ago, I had the same thing with Goddards, and this morning I have done it again. I have no photo of Beachcomber seafood restaurant on the High Street corner of poor, doomed Durnford Street – nothing to remind me of the plastic lobsters, the moveable pot plants, the faded photos of Olde Greenwich, the trifle-topping walls, the life-ring shop sign, now that it’s gone.

At least that’s what I’m told by Mark, who went in there with Mrs Mark yesterday for a bite to eat and was told it was the last day. Apparently there’s been a change in the lease and it is going to retail. Perhaps that’s to make up for the presumable change in lease that allowed two retail shops to turn into the highly original and Greenwich-centric Costa Coffee a few doors down.

I liked Beachcomber. Not particularly for the food; there was always far too much on the menu for any of it to be superbly cooked, but for its character. I liked the faded decor, the tatty pictures, the dodgy tinsel Christmas decorations, the unpredictable service, the gingham tableclothness of it all.

Are we really seeing the final death throes of Greenwich’s independent restaurants now? I can tell you with a heavy heart that there are at least two more indies about to pop, even though they’re not announcing their death publicly yet.

I don’t know whether my mum, with whom the Beachcomber waiters always used to flirt shamelessly, will be relieved or rather sad that they’ve gone…

the attachments to this post:

Beachcomber - by Emo - ask and ye shall receive...

25 Comments to “Beachcomber – Another One Bites the Sand”

  1. JR says:

    Photos of “everyday-Greenwich” is a great idea. Does anyone have a picture of “Co Op Mandy”?

  2. Neil says:

    I will miss the illustration of a fish smoking a cigar on the outside signage.

  3. Fatty Fatty BumBum says:

    I loved the look of this place from the outside however having tried it once the food was not great, so I never went again. Unfortunately pretty to look at isn’t enough to make a restaurant successful.

    Separately I noticed that that Mambo Latino plastic menu Tex Mex place along from the new Jamies Italian has also shut its doors. I always wondered what they were thinking opening in a town with 3 other large Texican places… can we have Pistachios back now please?

    Hopefully something decent takes these businesses places, like a cool independent cafe the likes of which Deptford and New Cross have in abundance but Greenwich seems to be void of. I am guessing high rents are the reason.

    For a town with a University on its doorstep the bars/cafes need to look East for some ideas as most of them are sooo dated and rubbish.

    I noticed bar Inc has reopened too and they seem to have just reattached the signs they took down 5 years ago and given the place a clean… FGS could they not have looked at the popular bars down Clapham way to see what their target market ACTUALLY wants nowadays. God knows we young-professionals need somewhere to spend our money once The Union chucks us out at midnight!

  4. Emo says:

    I have an old photo of the Beachcomber from around 2001 from my archives for you:

  5. THANK YOU Emo!!! I’m going to assume it’s okay to use on the blog?

  6. Emo says:

    Yes of course.

  7. Richard says:

    Another rubbish tourist trap closes, hurrah.

  8. Darren says:

    My twitter feed today tells me Strada might be moving into the old Italian on the corner and a Ladbrokes into the ex Nationwide – all complete rumour but if true not inspiring.

  9. Sadly I understand that the bookies in the Nationwide building rumour is all too true. I don’t know about Strada but it sounds depressingly plausible.

  10. Fatty Fatty BumBum says:

    No I hard that Nationwide is to be yet ANOTHER estate agents – Winkworth I believe. Strada is so boring, really is that the best Greenwich Hospital can come up with? At least mix the chains with decent Indys!

  11. Greenwich Hospital isn’t – and never has been – about making sure Greenwich is interesting and sustainable as a quirky destination for tourists both from London and the rest of the world. It is about profits for the charity, it’s that simple.

  12. Richard says:

    I guess the reality of the situtaion given the tourist heavy demand in the centre of Greenwich we locals have a choice between awful independents (the tex mex, rubbish chip shops and the like) or unexciting mid market chains. Hopefully someone will take the Morden Arms if the owner is looking to sell up?

  13. Jim says:

    I would have thought that, with a Pizza Express, an imminient Jamie’s Italian and and that Frankie & Bennys on the pier, yet another pretend-Italian place in the form of Strada was the last thing that Greenwich and Bianco – an indy run by actual Italians that seems to be deservedly thriving – needed. Ho hum.

  14. Chelsea_girl says:

    The Nationwide is to become a Ladbrokes: well, I saw that Ladbrokes were listed on some sort of planning communication stuck on the window the other day. Apparently, as incredible as this sounds, betting firms don’t need to apply for a change of use when taking over a bank/building society building as they are currently regarded as ‘a financial service’!

  15. Paul says:

    WInkworth have applied for planning permission for at least part of that building, 2790283. Note they’ve applied for illuminated signs which, IIRC, shouldn’t be allowed in the town centre.

    If there is a Ladbroke’s next door, then if I were the Rivington I’d close down. Who would want to eat facing the most depressing view in Greenwich?

    It’s a tough one to decide whether Strada is worse than Zizi or vice versa. But i guess those chains already infest many other lovely locations like RIchmond or Marylebone, so we shouldn’t feel especially victimised.

  16. Paul says:

    sorry, that should have been 279-283 (Greenwich High Rd)

  17. Fatty Fatty BumBum says:

    Yeah, this unit as well as the old Stitches and Daughters unit and I believe Kum Luang are all to be estate agents… you actually cant make this stuff up!

  18. Benedict says:

    It seems to me that the demise of the independent trader is common to a lot of towns across the UK and even further afield. I am presuming that much of the problems stem from rent increases and declining sales making it harder to make a profit. It is certainly the case here in The Beaches Toronto. Its a tourist destination and consequently has a daily influx of non-locals. This means that most of the restaurants and bars don’t have to try very hard because they don’t have to rely on repeat customers. In a 10 block section from the top of my street we have 3 starbucks, 4 independent coffee shops (1 closes down every 6 months to be replaced by….another coffee shop) 4 burger joints, 4 bars specialising in chicken wings (?) 2 new self serve frozen yogurt shops (who eats anything frozen when it is -6c like it is today?) 5 hot yoga studios and a plethora a shops selling nik-naks. Basically pretty much the same as Greenwich and the same voices of disapproval. Me and several of my neighbours are considering putting our funds together to run a gastro pub with independent brews, log fires and no frozen yogurt or wings…

  19. Karen says:

    The decline of the Indy restaurants and shops in Greenwich and Blackheath is both sad and annoyIng. The vibe that used to surround the enjoyMent of shopping and eating has been replaced by the bland offerings that can be found on many high streets. Unfortunately I have first hand experience of trying to establish a retail business in both Greenwich and Blackheath. Over the last 6 months I have put in offers on 4 premises, all were rejected by the landlords and every time the same excuse has been given – they either want a household/brand name to take their premises or they will only look at estate agents! Very frustraiting as I run a very successful company that has been in business for 8 years. I know from market research that what I have to offer would be welcome in both Greenwich and Blackheath but as the greedy landlords are intent on stuffing Greenwich town centre with brand names I fear that I will have to take my business elsewhere.

  20. Darryl says:

    Greenwich desperately needs a firm like Antic to step in and open somewhere – they’ve just announced plans to take over the Jobcentre in Deptford High Street and turn it into a pub.

    (For some people claiming to live in “Greenwich, SE8″, it’d be nearer to them than any pub in Greenwich, mind ;-) )

  21. Fatty Fatty BumBum says:

    Agreed, I wish Antic would come and rescue one of the Greenwich town centre pubs. Perhaps the Morden or the Lord Hood? I love Jam Circus in Brockley and they turned the awful Royal Albert in Deptford into a really nice pub too. And their new pub The Job Centre in Deptford already sounds like a winner. Hello Antic, are you reading?

  22. Rebecca says:

    Hello everyone. Sorry to add to the doom and gloom on the subject of independent retail, but Compendia is closing it’s doors on Sunday 13th Jan. How many more to follow?

  23. Dave says:


    Are you saying that you are sorry to see Bar de Musee,Beachcomber etc to disappear, I certainly am not!

    Not all chains are bad, this snobbery needs addressing !

    Quality independents are very welcome,tourist rip-off joints are not.

  24. herboise says:

    No not compedia too, I love that shop and the helpful staff, sadly lacking in a lot of places these days.

    Thing is a number of Greenwich idependants just aren’t as good as they could/should be, purely for tourists. Very sad if its true landlords don’t want new independants but I guess chains are a better guarentee of getting the money.

  25. Andy says:

    Noticed today that ‘The Home Front’ in the market has gone too – I loved this little shop for it’s 1940′s style objects & garden items – very sad & I certainly spent there rather than at chain stores… :(