Innovative Café Space at The Harlow Playhouse
By Trudy Harper
HARLOW’S Playhouse new café bar offers an inviting community hub with secluded areas aimed at providing just the right space for your needs.
Comfortable leather sofas give way to exciting play areas just around the corner from a large practical committee table and and along the passage from a peaceful work zone suitable for the most serious business meeting. Breast feeding mums are welcome to feed the newest addition to the family whilst chatting to other parents and keeping an eye on the toddlers exploring the wooden toys in the children’s book corner or enjoying a Dvd in the children’s secret cinema.
Jess du Preez, The Playhouse Communications & Sales Manager, explained they wanted an inclusive space for local people. As tickets are now purchased in the café area all staff are now hosts and have much interaction with the public, serving refreshments as well as tickets and have been freed from the confines of a glass fronted box. This development has been welcomed by cafe host Michal Bazzoni who said
‘the variation and changes have made my role much more enjoyable and are increasing my skill’.
The decor is slightly vintage, reflecting the 1960’s era when the theatre was built and books adorn the extensive shelving giving a warm and homely ambience. The books have proved very popular with customers asking to borrow editions started over a coffee and some customers bringing in books from home to swop.
Adam Marlow, 31, who was using the café between meetings in the town said, ‘the ambience is peaceful and very conducive to working but the temptation to pick up a book and have another coffee is very tempting’
The piano is in full working order and anyone is welcome to play and Jess recounted the pleasure a talented young musician had recently given fellow café goers when she spontaneously entertained everyone. Jess hopes this will develop further and they plan to organize a pianist to play before future productions.
Tina Adams, who has lived in Harlow all her life and a staunch supporter of the theatre was visiting the café for the first time and was very impressed. Tina said “This is a valuable asset to Harlow. A sanctuary away from the hustle and noise of the shopping centre.’
Tina plans to encourage her friend who works with breast feeding mothers to bring a support group to the centre. She is also hoping to bring her elderly parents along for a coffee because she felt they would appreciate the welcoming and calm atmosphere.
Jess du Preez is very excited that groups are starting to use the café. This week Tiny Tots Tales will have their first meeting involving crafts and storytelling for very small children She is also looking forward to welcoming a knitting group and hoping there will be a book group in the future.
People are welcome to bring in laptops and use the wifi and there are ample power points. The café in an innovative space for people of all ages to use as they want, whether that be entertaining toddlers, chilling with a book or puzzle or finishing a vital report for a deadline. There are no time limits and customers can stay as long as they wish making full use of the space.
The local, award winning Mayfield Farm Bakery provides mouth-watering home-made cakes and the menu of healthy food makes the café an ideal place to meet friends for lunch or coffee.
The Café Bar is open Monday to Saturday 10:30am to 5:30pm and one hour before any performance. If anyone would like to book an area within the café bar and look at food options for groups, please [email protected]