BY TOBY PORTER email@example.com
You’ve heard about the wrong kind of leaves on the tracks. And the wrong kind of snow.
Well, Streatham now has the wrong kind of coffee shop in its station.
A popular cafe owner who has been serving up lattes, mochas, cappuccinos and polo mints for more than 13 years is fighting plans to boot him out.
And Kaz Odutayo fears landlords Govia Thameslink – the highly popular timetable changers who run a good portion of the rail system in London – will install a multinational chain like Starbucks or Cafe Nero instead.
Another problem may be that in what is fast becoming an area of increasing property prices, his current lease bars Govia from increasing his rent.
He has now presented a petition, supported by more than 1,400 of his regular customers in the past month alone, to stop the train company from evicting him.
The petition has also attracted celebrity support from the likes of Homeland and Supergirl actor David Harewood, Streatham’s Catherine Russell, who stars in Holby City, 1970s Dr Who assistant Katy Manning, and TV property improvement specialist Sarah Beeny.
Co-leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley, and Streatham MP Chuka Umunna have also supported his campaign to stay at the station.
Kaz has run Pause Coffee Shop at Streatham railway station, for the past 13 years.
He handed it over to Govia’s chief executive last Thursday (June 21) at their Croydon offices, although if he had decided to take the train, he would probably have been late.
Govia initiated moves to terminate his lease in August last year, accusing him of subletting.
But all Kaz had done was to invite another local business to sell through his shop – The Elephant BakeHouse – and his contract allows him to make business partnerships.
So he says the arrangement is not subletting but a collaboration – and it is still ongoing.
Kaz has tried to initiate talks with the rail network, along with pursuing legal remedies.
Last week, to mark the beginning of the Streatham Food Festival, Kaz presented his petition to the chief executive of Govia Thameslink, asking the network to reconsider their position and to meet with him to negotiate the terms of his lease.
He has also run a successful campaign on social media and on site to ‘Save Our Shop’ using the hashtag #SOStreatham.
Kaz said: “Govia’s decision has left a massive hole in my pocket.
I really won’t know where to start again if they’re successful evicting me from the shop. It’s the support of my customers that is keeping me going.
“This is not fair on myself or my staff. I don’t want to fight anyone – I just want to run my business.
I have nothing else, I have been trying everything legally and publicly.”
Anyone who has walked through Streatham station will have enjoyed first hand the joy (and jazz) that Kaz Odutayo breathes into the station.
He oozes charm and likeability, and brings a personal touch to the station.
Kaz has run several different shops in Lambeth since the early 1980s and is in integral part of the local economy.
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