Entirely transformed and refurbished, the new Hub in Victoria Park opened its doors this Friday 18 January and has been an immediate success. A 50% off promotion for the first two days saw queues at the cafe. With delicious homemade croissants, apple and cinnamon muffins, and sausage rolls (and more) on the menu, the cafe is already proving popular.
The vision behind the Hub
Sandra Arvidsson and Draga Millahn, who run the Hub, were selected for the spot by Tower Hamlets Council because of their shared vision and the community-centred ideals in their proposal. ‘We wanted to make something we believed was needed for East London,’ Draga explained. ‘We were both local mothers, and dog and cat owners… we thought people needed this place to meet up.’
With the closure of the One O’Clock Club, she said they felt there was a gap, and wanted to recreate that atmosphere. They wanted to be that place customers are drawn into by the delicious smell of homemade pastries and coffee. Fearing the Hub would become a chain or a chicken shop, they put together a proposal that was in-keeping with the Victoria Park community. Kids and dogs are welcome, although Draga recommends keeping the latter on their leads.
Their vision is one of inclusion. With the playground and skate park close to the Hub, and the dog-walkers and parents travelling by everyday, they wanted the cafe to be for everyone. The Hub’s sign, with little drawings of each activity and part of Victoria Park on it, mirrors this. The slogan is ‘Eat. Play. Smile’, simply because that is what they want for their customers.
Made for locals by locals
Sandra and Draga did extensive research on local coffee shops and cafes in the four months on the run up to their opening, ‘We wanted to make sure we got it right,’ Draga said.
The Hub is modern and bright, with trendy hanging lamps, speakers dotted around the walls playing soft music, wooden tables and benches, and heated floors. Despite being in the middle of the park, they have wifi, free for two hours, and no problems from the cold. The Hub isn’t yet complete though, and Sandra and Draga have plans to add more plants and to change the doors so that they’re lighter. They also plan to add a children’s area with chalks and painting activities, and get some treats in for the dogs.
They used local designer Edward Clark, founder of the East London design-studio Adventure Stories, for the large circular sign on their window, lamps from V2 Studios, and hire their staff from the local area. For example, Ali Pantry is a local mother who helped set up the kitchen and their small team, and Marco, one of their chefs, is a local father. They wanted the Hub to help the community and support locals so they hired people who knew and loved the area.
One of the most popular items on the menu is their porridge, with homemade poached seasonal fruit (Quince) and toasted seeds for £4. Their kids pasta for £3.50 is the most popular item on their children’s ‘Tippie toe menu’. We also want to recommend the delicious homemade Apple and Cinnamon muffins.
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