2 weeks ago

Café Van Gogh in Brixton has now permanently closed

Café Van Gogh, the beloved vegan social enterprise located near the Oval on Brixton Road, has sadly shuttered its doors after nine vibrant years.

This wasn’t just any café; it was a haven of kindness and inclusion, where over 60 individuals with learning disabilities were trained and employed, enriching the community profoundly.

The menu was a testament to ethical, plant-based deliciousness—think tofu banh mi and hearty vegan burgers, each dish crafted with genuine care. Café Van Gogh’s dedication to social good was woven into every aspect of its operations, creating a warm, supportive environment for both staff and patrons.

As we say goodbye to this extraordinary establishment, we celebrate its significant contributions to Brixton’s culinary landscape and its unwavering mission to make a difference. Café Van Gogh will be deeply missed, but its legacy of compassion and quality will continue to inspire.

On Instagram, they  issued this statement:

WE ARE NOW CLOSED

We’ve been compelled to take the incredibly tough decision to close Café Van Gogh (from today), after nine years of trading as a unique vegan social enterprise, which always placed kindness and ethics at the heart of its business model.

Alongside many hospitality businesses, we’ve been negatively impacted by a series of events including covid, Brexit, the steep rise in energy costs and changes to the lunchtime economy that working from home has created.

Put simply, sales have been significantly down for several months now, whilst our costs have done nothing but rise.

Many of you will know that we’ve been working on converting our community interest company to charitable status – but sadly our financial circumstances have meant that we can no longer legitimately continue to trade whilst this is pending. We are therefore left with no option but to close.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on our successes.
In these 9 years we’ve worked with 60 adults and young people with a learning disability to train them in the skills needed for a job in hospitality. We’re immensely proud of this achievement.

We’ve provided a space for several groups to meet and provide peer support to each other, with all their drinks paid for by you, our customers through our pay-it-forward scheme. (Lambeth carers group, and a dementia support group, and others)

Our pay-it-forward scheme has captured the heart of our community in our corner of the world, and we’ve handed out over 2000 free hot drinks to people in need in our community, including to vital key workers such as ambulance drivers, road sweepers and delivery workers, all thanks to you

We’ve seen friendships and partnerships start at our tables, at least 5 couples we know had their first date with us and come back on their anniversaries to celebrate in the space that they first met.

Environmentally, we’ve managed to never send any food waste to landfill (it all gets composted) and have ran without ever selling an item that is packaged in single use plastic, or comes from an environmentally degrading multinational company (coca cola and nestle we’re talking about you)

Animal rights has always been at the forefront of our minds, and we’re really proud to have been a vegan restaurant before the word vegan was in common parlance.

It’s been really important to us to make our endings as considerate and in keeping with our ethical business model as possible .

There are no small businesses or suppliers who have not been paid by us, and we’ve gone about winding up the business with full consideration of the needs of our fantastic team, who will be looked after to the best of our ability and will leave without us owing a penny to them.

We’d like to end on a thank you. Every sale we’ve ever made has been an act of support from you, our wonderful customers. We hope you’ve enjoyed our service even half as much as we’ve enjoyed serving you. Thank you also to the benefactors who have supported us over the years.

Before we go, we have a bank of talented staff that are now on the job market, chefs, baristas, waiters and kitchen porters.

Some of whom have a learning disability. If you have any opportunities for these people, please be in touch on our Instagram page, which we’ll be keeping open for the next couple of months.

With love
All of us at Café Van Gogh

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