A beloved vegetarian landmark in London may be run out of business thanks to a complaint about cooking smells emanating from the 1840 listed building. With the help of loyal patron and barrister Paul Marshall, chef and partner of Greenwich-area Royal Teas café Ray Voce took his case all the way to High Court and then the Appeal Court to overturn a council ruling that barred the cafe from cooking any hot food. Supposedly, it only took one person to complain about "cooking smells" for a council official to evaluate the original planning provision for the building — which only allowed a café/tea room — and to forbid the expanded menu of the café's 19-year history that has rendered it one of the city's favourite vegetarian restaurants. Despite 300 customers writing into the council and 1,000 having signed a petition in support of the café and its hot food menu, the crotchety ruling was upheld in the Appeal Court.
The Royal Teas menu is affordable, healthy, and vegetarian, all of which are rather difficult to find in this pricy curry/kebab-overrun capital. Owner/partner Voce laments: "There's no justice in this world. All I can say to customers now is, 'What do you want in your sandwich? None of the people who make the decisions have been anywhere near the café. They talk about it as if it was a huge, stinking, horrible place, but it's actually the loveliest place around."
Voce said the ruling made it unclear whether or not he will even be allowed to serve toast. He fears the severely diminished menu will run Royal Teas out of business, no longer able to serve the £4 and under piping hot breakfasts that has rendered it a local favourite among the London veggie crowd. The spot was also voted one of the best 50 places in Britain to have breakfast — and you don't receive honours like that from serving sandwiches, folks. Head over to Greenwich's Royal Hill to show your support to this lovely London local; even if they won't be able to whip you up some beans on toast or scrambled eggs with veg, they still offer an array of delicious (and animal-friendly) homemade cakes.
Image courtesy of kromatic's flickrstream thanks to the Creative Commons Attribution license.