By Ben Reynolds
I have lived and worked in Fitzrovia for nearly 15 years. I love this “hidden” village and it’s unique character. The creative personalities that inhabit the homes and workplaces as well as the many independent businesses make it so alive. Places like the gift shop Multipazz, bars like Bourne and Hollingsworth and the many great restaurants such as Rasa and Pied A Terre make Fitzrovia a joy.
Once you get out and find the gems of the area you can’t look back. A drink in the beer garden at the Grafton Arms is so much nicer than at an identi-kit bar. There are much more interesting children’s gifts at Pollocks than you’ll find in a catalogue shop. A curry at the Indian YMCA is so much more fun than a visit to a franchised American burger bar. Dinner and wine at Barrica is infinitely more satisfying than a meal dictated by profit margin in a restaurant owned by an investment group. A haircut at Simplicity Remastered on Rathbone Street is an experience of Fitzrovia personality.
Fitzrovia’s boundaries and major thoroughfares are packed with the same national and international high street brands that litter this country’s high streets. These companies are all successful because people spend their money there. If you want Fitzrovia to become another clone of every other high street it’s your duty to spend your money with these big companies.
But if you like Fitzrovia because it’s different, then maybe you should help to keep the interesting local businesses thriving and starve out the slow encroachment of the big brands. Pick your favourite places, go there and take your friends. Ask your work colleagues where they like and go find out why.
If you want Fitzrovia to be ‘ours’ and not ‘theirs’ put yourselves and your wallets in the many local restaurants, pubs, bars and shops that aren’t on every high street.
Ben Reynolds is owner of Reynolds’ coffee shop on Charlotte Street and Eastcastle Streets.