The message is clear: small businesses need our help.
Around 100,000 businesses across London have been forced to close up for the month-long lockdown and the effects will be dire. “We are looking at a mass extinction event, it is going to be cataclysmic," says Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association.
"We were already seeing an increase in the numbers of companies falling day by day. "
We are, once again, doing our bit to save lives and protect the NHS. We’re hunkering down, we’re working from home and Zooming from dusk to dawn, but what can we do to save livelihoods and protect our once-bustling boroughs?
From Brixton to Blackheath, Highbury to Hackney, these are the small businesses ES writers will be spending their cash on this lockdown.
John Charles, Blackheath
Lockdown Part One introduced me to this traditional butcher in Blackheath, with its high-welfare meat and brilliantly knowledgeable staff who can tell how how something should be cooked by just looking at it. Now I know I won't survive another one without their pungent Toulouse sausages or their fabulous 'Sicilian' chicken. I've no idea how authentic this fat wedge of breast rolled around a lump of sausage meat, wrapped in bacon and topped with a demure lemon slice is but frankly I don't care.
Soho restaurant food at South East London prices - what's not to like? Owners Yohini Nandakumar and Terry Blake are both ex-St John but bring in influences from Sri Lanka (and anywhere else they fancy) to create what is always a glorious trip on a plate. I'll be ordering takeaway and, if I feel adventurous, maybe even their cook at home box. The plan is to offer a freezer box with a selection of curries, a chicken satay burger box with masala chips and a family feasting box, from Friday.
Park Fever, Hither Green
At the risk of exacerbating an alcohol intake already increased by Lockdown Part One, this time around I'm going to stock my fridge not with M&S wine but instead with delicious beers from the specialists at Park Fever down the road. Last Christmas I bought their gift box stuffed with treats from South London breweries for my Dad and it was a big hit. This year I think I'm just going to buy it for myself via their takeaway and delivery service. They also stock fancy chocolate, so that's all the lockdown food groups covered.
Finks, Finsbury Park
The sandwiches at this North London café turned shop and takeaway won’t solve all your problems but they will momentarily make the world a better place. They are made with sourdough from the nearby Dusty Knuckle bakery and recent hits include pastrami, cheese and homemade pickles and fried chicken Caesar. There are also middle east inspired salads and Scandi inspired cakes and cookies as well as takeaway coffee, wine, beer and spirits and a tastefully curated selection of homewares. Stock up.
Wondrous Theatre, Dalston
Erika Nagata, who runs this independent boutique on Dalston Lane, has impeccable taste. She has worked in fashion for more than 20 years and has carefully selected a beautiful range of women and children’s clothes, as well as jewellery and accessories. The dark grey alpaca wool jumper is on my Christmas list.
Ink 84, Highbury
You can still browse virtually at this independent bookshop in Highbury. They are offering Click and Collect and postal delivery. If you’re inspired to write your own book, they are hosting a ten-week Zoom workshop on starting your novel. Their Ink and Drink book club has moved to Zoom – there are often talks from local writers.
McKanna Meats, Holborn
Known as Theobald’s for the road it's on – it's not the name of any of the lovely butchers – even lockdown weekends feel like an occasion cooking with something bought here. The beef is particularly good; I’ve not had a fillet steak in any restaurant as delicious as the stuff sliced here, while there’s also a top choice of game, and the bangers are bangin’. Service is an old-fashioned kind of friendly. Socially-distanced queues aren’t much fun in the cold, but given there's a free delivery service now up and running, when it’s raining I’ll forgo the chat and order over email.
Fin and Flounder, Hackney
This Broadway Market fishmonger was the find of last lockdown; they’re fun, the fish is excellent and gillardeau oysters are always in stock. These little French gems are hard enough to find on restaurant lists, let alone for takeaway, but they’re a treat, nutty and sweet, and worth the 20-minute cycle I’ll be making each week (when you're staying in, spoiling yourself is everything). They also have a top array of fresh and smoked fish, shellfish and lobsters, while the paired wine menu is spot on, too.
Terroni of Clerkenwell, Farringdon
On a Saturday or Sunday morning, heading into this local favourite – which happens to London's oldest delicatessen – is like strolling into somewhere tucked away on a Napolese backstreet; it smells of coffee, chatter is loud and excited and usually always in Italian, and one wall is a shrine to an inconceivable variety of pasta shapes (though alphabetti spaghetti remains sadly absent). Though our cupboards often mimic their shelves, this lockdown I’ll be popping in regularly for takeaway espresso and slices of freshly-made pizza to go with a mountain of cured meat and the tins of tomatoes my (Italian) girlfriend insists trump the cheaper supermarket fare.
Fowlds Café, Camberwell
This micro-coffee shop and general store inside a furniture upholsterers on the edge of Burgess Park kept my spirits up in lockdown 1.0. The staff are wonderful, it sells bottles of Provencal rose and you can’t stay dispirited for long when you’re eating one of their pistachio cronuts. Luckily, they’re a takeaway stop so they’ll be staying open throughout the next few weeks. I’ll be queuing up for a sugar rush before going for a blustery walk around the park, even as the daylight hours shorten.
The Camberwell Arms, Camberwall
Peacetime winters mean whiling hours away at a table in the Camberwell Arms, seeing off plates of buttery brown crab on toast. Sadly, this is currently denied me, so in the meantime, I’m supporting the restaurant by buying vouchers for when the restaurant is back on its feet. You can buy them in £25 increments, to be redeemed at your leisure. If you have a south Londoner in your life, it would make a wonderful Christmas present. Alternatively, try one of their pies to share with Camberwell Arms At Home. They also make pre-mixed negronis to takeaway. Winner.
My favourite scruffy pub - with its wonky tables on the Camberwell Riviera – won’t be open for a while, but it’s currently doing click and collect – which sweetens the pill. It has plenty of bottles and cans available to order. I’ll be going to load up before a socially distanced walk (with one friend) towards Dulwich.
Bloom East, Peckham
Anya, who runs gorgeous Peckham florists Bloom East, created my wedding flowers. With little-to-no creative direction from me (it was a hastily arranged covid wedding and I’d lost the will to live at this point), she created the most exquisite bouquet and buttonhole. Throughout lockdown she’ll be delivering fresh flower arrangements all over London with free local delivery. Come mid-November she’ll be adding spectacular Christmas wreaths to her site. Seasonal arrangements start at £35 and festive wreaths at £65. Lockdown 2.0 just got a hell of a lot more Instagrammable.
The Laundry, Brixton
I start my WFH days by strolling down Coldharbour Lane to The Laundry and getting one of their Caravan roasted coffees to go. On greedy days I’ll throw in a bacon brioche bap, most days I grab something from the bakery which is all supplied by St John. The Eccles cake is a thing of wonder and the cinnamon buns… mother, may I. At the weekend, I’m rather partial to a rewarding takeaway cocktail after I’ve stocked up on a few essentials at the little general store.
Ah, Salon. These guys got me through the last lockdown. Their curated cases of natural and organic wine will be delivered nationwide this time around and locals can pick up their bottles Tuesdays - Saturdays in store. Choose between Fun Bangers, £70; Juicy Bangers, £90; Strictly Bangers, £120; Off The Charts, £210. For those with something to celebrate (making it through another day?) the Sparkling Bangers case includes moreish Pet Nats. Six bottles per case. On the food front, they’ve launched Salon At Home. Take your pick from two set menus (one is veggie) complete with wine pairings.
Atariya, Swiss Cottage
So next-level glossy is my neighbourhood that my local sushi bar is in fact run by the wholesaler of some of London’s finest sashimi – supplier to Nobu no less. While in past years this meant that I could pop round the corner for some of the best-quality sushi in London (yes, including black miso cod), in the year of weird it has meant I’ve been getting Knightsbridge takeout at neighbourhood prices from my old faithful – now converted from restaurant to delicatessen. Honourable shout out to another fishy favourite, Coastline Galicia fishmonger on Abbey Road, which does the best smoked salmon in north London (amid stiff competition) alongside good value fresh fish, fish pie and a pavement oyster stall.
Coastline Galicia, 69 Abbey Rd, NW8 0AE, 020 7624 9984, open 9-6 Tuesday to Saturday
Panzers Deli, St John’s Wood
When new arrivals to St John’s Wood are given their house keys, I firmly believe they should be handed the directions to Panzers at the same time. The New York style deli-cum-high end greengrocer is a true institution and kept me in bagels and babka throughout the first lockdown. I will be expecting nothing less this time around.
Hart & Lova, Maida Vale
I developed my Hart & Lova addiction during the first lockdown, which is when I discovered this tremendous independent bakery, and I have remained faithful to it ever since. It serves Monmouth coffee, reassuringly buttery pastries and fabulous fruit tarts for days when you need an extra special treat.
Pages of Hackney, Clapton
Book sales might be up on this time last year, but that doesn’t mean our local bookshops don’t need an extra dose of love during the winter of discontent 2.0. My local in Clapton, Pages of Hackney, is always a delight and so I’ve already stocked up on books from it that I’m giving as presents this year. Even if you’re not an East London native, give them a follow on Instagram anyway as they host some stellar authors for virtual talks.
Fin and Earth, Dalston
In true Hackney style, my local coffee shop is a zero-waste lifestyle and grocery shop. The couple that own it, Seda and Ber, not only make a mean (and hand blended) turmeric latte but also offer plastic-free grocery products so I’ll be popping there with my containers during lockdown for top-ups of pasta, porridge oats and rice.
Stuffed, Netil Market
East London’s best kept secret is this pasta stall in Hackney’s Netil Market. All pastas are handmade by half-Italian heartthrob Riccardo, who left his job at a start-up to go it alone and bring fresh ravioli to the mainstream. Good news for locals is that its array of stuffed pastas launched on Deliveroo last week, just in time for lockdown 2.0.
Dusty Knuckle, Dalston
I’m planning a WFH treat lunch by way of a knockout doorstep sandwich from the Dusty Knuckle bakery in Dalston, aka the kings of sourdough and baked goods. You can now pre-order your takeout to avoid queues.
Still London, Dalston
Non toxic and vegan nail salon Still London is one of the best places to get a mani in East. Support the business by buying a gift voucher now to use for your festive mani come December. Or, treat yourself to one of their calming soy wax winter candles inspired by Icelandic landscapes, £38 - that'll zhuzh up the home workspace nicely.
Buller & Rice, Walthamstow/Newington Green
Sustainable hair salon Buller & Rice is now taking bookings for December, when they are hoping to reopen, so buy a gift voucher now to use then. In the meantime, I'll be investing in a couple of bottles of its Yuzu and Cedarwood hand wash in collaboration with fellow London brand Neighbourhood Botanicals, £20. Smells divine.
Jen's Plants & Florist, Brick Lane
I didn't get the chance to become a plant mother during the first lockdown but I think now is the time to step up to the responsibility. My store of choice is Jen's Plants & Florists in Brick Lane. The physical store is closed for now but they offering deliveries for everything from Snake plants to Yuccas.
Cups & Jars, Forest Gate
This lovely little cafe is not only great for coffees and pastries, but it’s also really eco-conscious with lots of organic and locally sourced products and a wide selection of vegan and gluten-free groceries too.
Our Lovely Goods
I'm obsessed with soaps and candles and all of that good stuff, so since I'll be spending most of my time indoors I'll indulge in long baths and pamper sessions. I haven't yet tried the products from Our Lovely Goods but I've heard positive things and would quite like to try out more wellness and skincare products from smaller and newer brands.