Lewes Forum thread

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On 10 Jan 2013 at 4:07pm bloke (original) wrote:
I suggest people write to The Drinks People (the company behind The Flying Coffee Bean) and let them know what they are likely to face if they open at the station in place of The Runaway i.e. a Lewes Arms style boycott. Let your feelings be known here:

Check it out here »
On 10 Jan 2013 at 4:22pm pixiepiper wrote:
too much time on your hands. the runaway is a hole, let it runaway.
On 10 Jan 2013 at 4:56pm Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
Well, The Drinks People are not the "bad guys" in this. They are simply another company that tendered (as did The Runaway) to operate from that site. They aren't the ones that are making The Runaway leave.
I am not sure a boycott will work with a cafe on a railway station, like it did with Lewes Arms. Yes, Lewes people might not use The Flying Coffee Bean, but think of all the people from other areas, who pass through Lewes, changing trains, etc. They won't know any different and simply purchase their coffees, etc. as normal.
Even if the boycott worked and the Drinks People left, Southern will put it out to tender, and it could go to a Costa or Nero, etc. There would be no guarantee The Runaway would be reinstated.
On 10 Jan 2013 at 5:05pm smedley wrote:
Seems a bit defeatist Cllr price
On 10 Jan 2013 at 5:33pm scary portas wrote:
I wonder how many of those complaining about the closure of the Runaway frequent and give their custom to the other multiple operators in Lewes eg Nero, Costa etc rather than the independents... I fear they doth protest too much and vote differently with their own wallets. Anyway, give the place a chance, and as 80% of their custom will be those passing through with no affinity, there's every chance that the 'polished turds' of the Flying Bean' will do well or better. You all get the town and shops you pay for, not the ones you want or feel you deserve.
On 10 Jan 2013 at 8:06pm Posh Bloke wrote:
I catch an early morning train from Haywards Heath which very often smells of soggy bacon sandwiches. Do they by any chance come from the Runaway? If they do, I sincerely hope the new tenant ceases to sell such sandwiches because they make my train stink. Not pleasant at 06:30.
On 10 Jan 2013 at 8:24pm CLOWSIE wrote:
Looking at the website for the Flying Coffee Bean they can't be that confident of taking over the cafe if they are NOT going to change the name from the Runaway? Doesn't that sound a bit odd to you?
@ Cllr Price, obviously you didn't see the boycott of the Lewes Arms, as effectively it emptied the pub with not even tourists going in. Greedy King said they would not change their minds but they did.
On 10 Jan 2013 at 10:35pm Southover Queen wrote:
I'm completely on the side of everyone who bemoans this result. The Runaway made the best cuppa - whole leaf, freshly made, delicious - I've had in quite a while.

However like Ashley Price I can't see how a boycott would work. The Lewes Arms has one entrance on a public highway; it was child's play to picket and there's plenty of choice nearby. The station cafe is on a platform beyond the ticket barrier, so pickets would need a ticket to be there at all. Lewesians might boycott it, but tourists and non-locals won't because they have nothing invested in it - they just want a coffee and a bun while they wait for their train.

I do think Southern have been stunningly deaf to what their "customers" (hah) actually want. I'm sure a chain can pay more rent, but that's because they can bulk buy ingredients and undercut a small business. Still, LDC doesn't listen to Lewes, and ESCC treats Lewes with complete contempt, so I suppose it comes as no surprise that Southern couldn't care less either.
On 10 Jan 2013 at 11:21pm expat two wrote:
It will probably be one of the last opportunities to picket a business - not that that's a good enough reason in this case.
I can't help thinking the govt's current enthusiasm for snooping on emails, texts and phone calls, is more about their plans to criminalise the organised boycotting of businesses than wiping out terrorism. As sure as eggs is eggs, that day will come.
On 10 Jan 2013 at 11:30pm Fatbob wrote:
@Southover Queen - You can get onto the platforms without a ticket through the car park entrance...
On 11 Jan 2013 at 3:38am Tony@thesnowdrop wrote:
The coffee at Flying Bean in Brighton is insipid and the pastries are greasy, limp and frequently stale so I don't think this decision is based on quality. I don't think a boycott will do any good when they have moved in but perhaps a delegation or two to their concessions in Brighton and elsewhere might make this company reconsider the desirability of taking on the Lewes pitch given the strength of local opposition and support for the Runaway. Costa had the good grace to realise that opening in
Totnes was not in the best interests of their reputation, flying Bean should take the same lesson.
However the real focus needs to be directed at Southern Rail. Where is their head office. How about a visit distributing free tea & cake to their staff? I'm sure the local press would be interested. It's about time the people who have made this decision met with the people of Lewes but there's no reason not to be civilised about it.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 7:43am Tea boy wrote:
Why is it people in Lewes cannot just allow things to change? Outlets change, tenders are lost all over the country on a daily basis. It was only a couple of days ago people on here where moaning that LDC don't like change and how we should change the river bank etc etc. ok it's a chain! A chain of shops that started as one shop in a small high street somewhere. With success they decided to expand to where they are now. I suppose like Bills. No one likes him no because he's made something of himself. It's a coffe shop for Christ sake! Get over it and move on. And yes, I'm Lewes born and bred with no ties to the said coffee shop or the train station in fact I've never even been in there as its to bloody expensive!
On 11 Jan 2013 at 9:11am Sussex Jim wrote:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
In other words, don't bring in a change that makes things worse. Only change a shop if the quality of goods and services are improved. We do not want another situation like that of Greedy King taking over Beard's pubs
We in Lewes won't be druv!
On 11 Jan 2013 at 9:47am pixiepiper wrote:
Good god you people are all so narrow minded. The more I read this it is clearly apparent that this is becoming more and more about the desire to shout your mouth and stage a mindless boycott. I personally think the runaway is the most dull and dreary outdated establishment I have seen in years. Shame on you people you make our townsfolk look like a bunch of yobs. I wonder how many of you ever go to the dearly beloved runaway. Staging a boycott at their OTHER sites?? I hope you get arrested! Lewes will never progress.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 11:24am Smedley wrote:
tea boy: "in fact I've never even been in there as its to bloody expensive!"
well a good cup of coffee is £1.40. Is that really expensive? How much at the flying beano?
pixiepiper: "Lewes will never progress. "
I can only assume your idea of progress is progressive price increases.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 12:26pm GiantMike wrote:
So I‚??ve done a bit of my own research and this is what I have found out. According to a friend‚??s friend the owner of the runaway lives in Switzerland ‚?? so that may explain why it‚??s so dreary and need of a serious makeover!
And I‚??ve also concluded that maybe a change is as good as a holiday ‚?? as with any lease there was clearly a contract, it was up for tender and the best bidder won it. And from the looks of the links going around the flying coffee bean is small british business ‚?? a shop at Woking station and Brighton station and a few exhibition sites doesn‚??t sound like a massive chain. So if we all boycott it and picket it and grind it into the ground and it shuts and instead of a small british business as any small business with limited resources would be crazy to invest limited resources in Lewes after the last one went out of business what we could get instead is a nice big fluffy chain like costa/nero or starbucks which won‚??t pay taxes, barely pay their staff and half the staff they do have are probably on the government work experience scheme.
I'm happy to support putting my energy into boycotting a proper big chain which apart from employing a couple of people doesn‚??t do anything to benefit or go out of their way to support our local economy.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 1:35pm Boy wrote:
Things have moved on in the coffee world since The Runaway started up. It is tired and dated. I think the Flying Coffee Bean will be small enough and light enough on their feet to respond to customers wishes while introducing new drinks and other fare to the train using people of Lewes and beyond.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 1:53pm brixtonbelle wrote:
The point is that most people who used it were perfectly happy with the Runaway cafe. It was a decent cafe with friendly staff and competitive prices. 3,500 signatures on a petition represents 20 percent of the population of Lewes - a fifth - which is an amazing amount of support. Unfortunately anyone who uses the trains can't boycott Southern, who are the real culprits here. But I think it's a damn shame to lose a cosy cafe with character and replace it with a coffee shop that to all intents and purposes looks like a hundred other chain coffee shops.
It's irrelevant where the former proprieter of the Runaway lives IMHO and if you knew anything about the history of the Runaway GiantMike you would show a bit more sensitivity on the subject, not rely on gossip from a 'friends friend' .
On 11 Jan 2013 at 3:16pm Boy wrote:
A couple of points from the above post. Firstly I am surprised that 20 per cent of the Lewes population use the Runaway. Secondly, you are either well informed regarding the future layout and decor of the Runaway or making wild assumptions.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 3:27pm Helper wrote:
Comparisons have been made with how Lewes Cinema was summarily chucked-out of All Saints by the council with the situation at the Runaway Cafe. First I would say how sorry I am that a small business has been treated this way. But..at least in the case of the runaway they had the opportunity to tender for a new lease, something which Lewes Cinema did not. In fact LC were not aware of the process until after the decision was taken.
One of the councillors points out that the decision in the case of the cinema was taken by a vote of 16 to 2 in favour of removing the operators - well maybe a similar process was applied in the decision-making process at Southern. Does that make it ok? No not really, but it's no worse than what the Town Council did and I'm surprised (no actually on second thoughts I'm not that suprised) that the irony of the situation is entirely lost on the insensitive buffoon councillors who comment on here.
Even to the point of councillors commenting on how a petition to save the runaway was 'ignored' by Southern. Ahem.. Lewes Cinema also had a petition of over 2000 signatures which was ignored by LTC.
Memories may be short but I'm sure somebody will be around to remind everybody of these decisions come the next election...
On 11 Jan 2013 at 4:05pm Merlin Milner wrote:
I seem to remember a few years ago that the Town Council wanted to rejig dates for community arts events and cinema showings but Lewes Cinema then petitioned the Town claiming that the TC was trying to substantially reduce cinema in Lewes. This was untrue and insensitive to the role of All Saints being a Community Arts Centre where cinema is just part of the provision not its sole purpose on weekends.
Buffoon I may be. Perhaps it takes one to know one!
On 11 Jan 2013 at 4:10pm GiantMike wrote:
Rely on gossip? That‚??s a little rich considering half these boards is purely gossip and factual inaccuracies‚?? and for the record you may have seen that I followed up the links on the boards to the flying bean! And sensitivity when the reaction to this is completely overkill. I‚??ve been to the runaway and found it outdated, off putting with that opera/classic fm rubbish and nothing exactly stood out as memorable ‚?? quite the opposite. My point being that the world has moved on and businesses cannot have leases or licences renewed based on being ‚??sentimental‚?? and if 20% of the Lewes population who signed that petition purchased breakfast once a week then the caf would have a turnover of almost £1 million a year ‚?? which for some reason I don‚??t think really happens and I travel at peak times, which makes me think we‚??ve decided to pick a fight for the sake of having a fight. Why do you think that the chains which we all hate are so busy ‚?? because they cater for the majority of the population ‚?? they don‚??t play classical and opera music because they know they will isolate anyone under 40 and any businessman with half a brain cell will tell you that a huge part of cliental grabbing a coffee and breakfast on the way to work are of the younger starbucks fast food generation.
We‚??re in an incredibly serious recession with the country in serious debt and with businesses closing and unemployment rates climbing. If a another small British business wins the contract through fair play and sources their produce locally (again I dont think they've confirmed this yet), create employment opportunities and pay British taxes then that is a win win situation for us as it may a. increase their turnover so b. employ more staff at their coffee shop c. increase the amount of taxes they pay - if they happen to source their products locally (again not confirmed but I can‚??t imagine a company that operates in Woking, London and Brighton having capacity to transport milk and food across the country daily) as opposed to a big chain like starbucks where I can get the exact tuna paninni across their stores countrywide then that has a secondary effect for increasing employment and turnover of other local businesses in Lewes. It‚??s basic economics ‚?? and you hardly need a business degree to understand such basics ‚?? I learnt that stacking shelves when I was 17.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 4:21pm Helper wrote:
Merlin, this is hardly relevant to what was being said and you clearly can't see the irony in your comments about the runaway - stop digging that hole, it's getting deeper and deeper.
However, as you refer to something which happened in 2006.. in actual fact the town council wanted to reduce cinema on Fridays and in practice this meant Lewes Cinema losing all it's Friday's which was one third of it's screening days - so it was quite correct of them to say that cinema provision was being reduced by the council.
Now that the council is running the cinema at All Saints it screens on those very Friday's it tried to remove previously. Isn't that a bit hypocritical?
So in summary - you seem to be saying that due to a scheduling conflict which was resolved 6 years ago the council was waiting to replace LC for being succesful with their petition in 2006?
On 11 Jan 2013 at 4:40pm Merlin Milner wrote:
Helper / Lewes Cinema. Again half truths. Interestingly in 2010 Lewes Cinema said on this forum that it was looking other venues.
I reiterate that All Saints is a Community Arts Centre and its provision is not just cinema and the program of events varies across the year. We have to juggle the different types of events and the requests for bookings. Your summary is incorrect.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 5:10pm Helper wrote:
Merlin I'm not Lewes Cinema but know enough to argue the facts - what are the half-truths you speak of? I can only speak for myself and what I know, I very much doubt that LC would want to engage in any discussion on here with you though.
If All Saints is, as you have said twice, not just a cinema at the weekend and that was the problem - then why are you screening in precisely the same pattern as before. In fact the stated aim of the council was that there would be no noticeable difference in frequency or number of screenings.
Clearly there are a number of interested parties who have not given you all the facts as I know that Lewes Cinema were asked on a number of occasions to give-up dates for other events, and when they could they did indeed do so. The last one I know of was an event organised by Union music store.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 5:16pm Helper wrote:
I think this is detracting from the focus on runaway which is unfair, so I will not make any further comments on this thread. Anyway life is too short to spend time trying to get the blind to see.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 5:24pm Merlin Milner wrote:
Indeed Helper / Kevan. I will just add one further comment to those who compare Lewes Cinema and The Runaway.
Lewes Cinema hired All Saints and had no contract, just like other hirers of All Saints.
The Runaway, as I understand it, are a tenant with a contract.
Quite different.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 6:47pm The Flying Coffee Bean wrote:
Dear Residents of Lewes,
I know that many of you are fiercely protective of The Runaway on Lewes Station, perhaps in the same way that I am fiercely protective of my company‚??s independence.
I wanted to write to you to tell you who I am and who we are as a company. With the enduring help of my colleagues, we have built up a diverse company that strives to do things in our own way.
I have for some years fought the big chains in tender after tender, championing our independence.
Many of you may know our shop and staff on the Concourse at Brighton Station where we have been serving our customers since 2004. We are also delighted to be opening a new shop at Hayward‚??s Heath Station in February of this year. These tenders have been won partly because of our independence and partly because of the unique approach that we can bring to each site‚?¶ a freedom that the ‚??chains‚?? are shackled from‚?¶ chain by name, chained by nature.
So we come to the Tender for Lewes‚?¶.
I love the Runaway café. I love everything it stands for. Its sense of place. A world away from the hustle and bustle of commercial life. A unique and wonderful place.
It is obvious that there is investment required, but what was very clear was that the Runaway had a spirit all of its own.. . It is fantastic, and it has always been abundantly clear to me that should I be fortunate enough to succeed in the Tender for the Runaway, I would then become the custodian and guardian of the ‚??Runaway‚?Ě and all it stands for.
My tender to Southern Railways was very to the point. ‚??To enhance everything that is great about the Runaway‚?Ě including the name, the music, the leaf teas‚?¶ but to also invest.
We will be working with the National Heritage trust to research colours and finishes of Victorian and Edwardian stations (based in London) and the Conservation Officer in Lewes. The interior layout of the Runaway will remain, but to now include a reclaimed Victorian bar circa 1901, communal old kitchen tables (and smaller) all from reclaimed sources, to replace the floor with reclaimed oak floorboards, etc, etc..
We would want to work in consultation with you all to build on that great sense of well being that the Runaway has always provided.
I know that many of you will want to respond to my sentiments expressed above and I look forward to being able to communicate in an open and sensible forum.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and have a great weekend.
Barny Clevely
Managing Director
The Flying Coffee Bean
On 11 Jan 2013 at 7:39pm padster wrote:
If you do what you say your going to do , then it sounds good and for now my cynicism is on hold.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 8:19pm Kevsy wrote:
What about the staff? Are you keeping them on? They are a good team and deliver good service! What about prices?
On 11 Jan 2013 at 9:13pm Tony@thesnowdrop wrote:
Dear Barny Clevely,
Firstly I'd like to thank you for coming on here and addressing us directly.
While it's good to hear how much you like the Runaway as it is, the problem is, what it is is what Jackie has created there over the past 24 years. However much you love it, it's not yours! You are taking over the bricks & mortar, everything else belongs to Jackie and you are not going to be welcomed by stealing it off her.
Generally speaking, if you want to take on an independent business that you admire, you approach the business owner, you make them an offer that covers the physical aspects of the business and, just as importantly, the goodwill resulting from their years of hard work, ideas, relationships, creativity, personality and all the other intangibles that make up the real value of the ongoing business. That's the nice, civilised way of doing things.
Alternatively there's the way you've conducted yourself here. Their lease comes to an end so you outbid the owner or offer more investment or whatever, they get kicked out with nothing and you steal that goodwill, take over their name, trading style and everything they have built up over 24 years and put it all down to your entrepreneural skills. It's a scummy way to grow your business no matter how much you spend on reclaimed wood.
If you want to be a welcome 'custodian' of the Runaway, if you want to benefit from the business' goodwill, if you want to continue Jackie's style and ambiance, provide continuity and develop a much-loved institution then back off. Withdraw your tender, let Jackie have the lease renewed and then make her a decent offer. She may well turn you down but that's her prerogative because it's her business. And that's the really important point that you don't seem to understand.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 9:20pm Scary Portas wrote:
To the Victor The Spoils. If the Runway was that successful, they could have negotiated directly with the landlord to keep the lease. People in Lewes seem to expect independent businesses to tick along but businesses need solid reliable profits before they can enjoy or contribute to the community. Don't pretend to carry on with the Runaway, defend your brand and brand values and commercial model that won you the tender. Whether people like you is largely irrelevant unless you are an egotist, what matters in business is that you make money -when you make money, you can pay a community back for what you have 'stolen/borrowed' a la Tesco. Mines a sheety latte with gingerbread pretension and a pimped croissant. To Go.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 9:28pm bloke (original) wrote:
Tony, you might want to repost this to Facebook as it may be that someone just cut and pasted his post from there onto here.

"I love the Runaway café. I love everything it stands for. Its sense of place."

Well leave it alone then!

Barney says he loves the Runaway but he wants to destroy it and turn it into a Victorian/Edwardian themed cafe with a reclaimed bar and floorboards. Apparently they're also promising to see locally-sourced packets of bacon and eggs. What nonsense who's going to buy that on their morning commute to London or Brighton.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 9:37pm Christian Hopper wrote:
I am of course sad to see the Runaway go having long enjoyed their loose leaf teas whilst waiting for the trains to London in my time before the florist/tearoom Lewesiana, but I must say (for what its worth) that I was actually invited to tender for the opportunity this summer (despite having only opened the tearoom 2 months ago) without having expressed any interest in it, so the folks at Southern or somebody must have spent some effort/homwork at inviting local businesses to tender for it - I wonder who else they asked who didnt respond? Perhaps ask them that! My past career in corporate sales and real estate tell me that most lease tendering is based 70-80% on price and the rest on track record and customer service but top price trumps all. However, as with any business, if you don't like it,. you don't go there, but at the same time, don't knock it until you have tried it. Best of luck -perhaps those who don't like it should buy their teas and coffees from one of the many tea/coffee shops in town before the station and hope it stays warm until their train arrive! Happy 2013 all.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 9:48pm Dave wrote:
Good on you Barny for taking the time and trouble to find out what Lewes customers appreciate about the existing setup.
We all realise you need to make a living and of course that's fair enough and no doubt you will employ local staff but Lewes is a bit different from most towns on the line and commuters will respond to a sense of respect to that.
@Tony I hope you did all you said when you took the goodwill of The Snowdrop? Mind you the was a whole lot more goodwill when Tim and Sue had it than when you took it on.
Upstairs still needs a pool table btw.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 10:05pm Tony@thesnowdrop wrote:
Thanks Bloke, have done.
Hi Dave, there was no goodwill when we took it on because there was no trade or tenant. We just bought bricks and mortar. Punch squandered all the goodwill that Tim & Sue built up. The Mays were incredibly supportive to us and we're very grateful to them. Not convinced about the pool table, much prefer the bar billiards table, toad table & darts board we have up there now.
On 11 Jan 2013 at 10:45pm the old mayor wrote:
Why cant people live without a coffee/drink/snack for a couple of hours> No wonder obesity is rife !! Get slim you fatties !!

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