Portobello cafes.

23 Jul

I keep, and will continue to keep, banging on about government and councils making decisions without considering the full impact and cause and effect. Last week we went along to Portobello to sit and gawp at the sea and read our books. Good grief how old does that sound!

We were amazed at the huge piles of flotsam and jetsam, which had been removed from the beach following the floods of the previous few weeks. Lots of wood for sure.

We walked along the High Street and went into Earthy, which is, as the name suggests, a greenie style shop. It seems to sell the same sort of stuff as lots of other shops but the goods are significantly more expensive. I’m assuming it costs the greenies a lot to save the world. The bread was really fresh and nice although the brownies were not quite as good. They also seemed to sell weeds. Well they looked like weeds to me anyway. Probably they were weeds but special ones, which would help and encourage the biodiversity wherever they were planted. But they would still look like weeds. Weeds are, apparently, flowers in the wrong place.

Anyway we headed back along the High Street to the car and thought that a cup of something hot and scone would be a good idea. Did I mention that we are on diets again? We spotted a nice wee cafe, Annie and Belle (they are on Facebook but no website as yet). You know those wee cake cafes, which are normally bulging at the seams with Yummy Mummies? Well one of those.

It wasn’t too busy so we went in. Not a lot of tables and chairs and more retail space than I thought sensible. The coffee was good and the scone changed into carrot cake since the scones were sold out, the yummies go there first. Well it was after three and they may well have been a bit peckish earlier. It was well priced and the ladies who owned it were pleasant.

Later that evening Mrs TT and I were discussing the wee cafe. Why so much retail space? Those cafes rely on the number of covers they can get into the space and the number of customers who fill them in rotation. The business cant survive if it can’t sell to potential customers in the right number.

The reason for the retail space is that Edinburgh Council stipulated they wanted a mix of food and retail shops on the High Street. The cafe got permission to open only on the basis that they would also have a retail area and a regulated number of covers. Since the cafe opened a number of shops have closed down due to the financial climate and I would have thought almost any shop would be a good idea on their High Street. The other cafes along the High Street are not in the demographic as the wee cafe.

No doubt there is a policy, which has been worked out by experts who know how to regulate a high street to ensure it has balance and longevity. The erosion of local high streets hasn’t just come about because of supermarkets, it came about because some shops just didn’t adjust to the changing retail environment and evolve to remain attractive to their target customers. Remember, niche is king and a short-term niche success is also a successful monopoly.

All businesses of all sizes and types have to do this. Any business you can name has to have a level of uniqueness, which ensures customers will want to buy their goods or services. Earthy was doing just that. They were appealing to the better off greenie types. People go there to buy stuff, which appeals to their beliefs. Simples.

The Council don’t come under any pressure to evolve. The council aren’t told that they can only operate in a certain way or they will be punished in a certain way. The Council doesn’t deliver services against competition on a level playing field. Do they ever measure cost v service delivered? No. Not in any true sense. They get money they spend it and they then regulate the collection of further monies as they see fit to ensure they can operate as they see fit.

Councils should be accountable to all the people living in their area. That’s all council management of course along with the councillors. Any operating out of agreed, measured and monitored operations should result in the repercussions being as serious for them as it is for anyone else who gets things wrong and messes up.

Where’s the brownies? Ah yes. Eaten. This isn’t a bad diet you know.


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