Crofton Park

CROFTON COLUMN #46

THE CLOSURE OF PAT-A-CAKES, CROFTON PARK, SE4

                               

I don’t know if everyone is aware but Stacie at Pat-a-Cakes is finally closing her lovely café this Friday (13th) after 4 years on the block. She has been a stalwart of the community and I felt deserves to be recognised for her contribution to the area. 

Stacie first opened Pat-a-cakes in 2nd November 2011 at a time when that stretch of shops was very desolate with a rather run down internet café, and two other empty units – the only decent outlets being the wonderful Rivoli at one end and Bells of Westminster, the builders, on the corner which has now become ‘Bryan & Keegan’.

It was an immediate, exciting addition to the area and attracted many customers eager to try out her cake and coffee. The vintage style of the shop was always a draw with its pretty creams and pinks, delicate china teapots and crockery.  However the wonderful haberdashery counter where the day’s cakes are beautifully displayed is the star of the show.

For over a year before opening a shop she was baking cakes/cupcakes and then selling them on Sunday at a Brick Lane market stall besides doing a 9/5 job in the city so was certainly used to hard work as would bake on the Saturday ready for the next day. She was also taking cake orders from the stall/online so decided she was ready to open a shop close to where she lived in Brockley. The opportunity came up in Crofton Park and after a hard month of getting it fitted out it finally opened.

If anyone ever thinks starting their own business is going to be easy needs to rethink it. I befriended Stacie very early on and have seen how hard she works and has had to continually work to make the café a success. For the first few years Stacie would bake every night at home the cakes for the next day. Life became easier when the back room of the café was fitted out as a kitchen but she now gets up at 6am to cycle into work and start baking. At least a couple of nights, straight after clearing up & cleaning the café ready for the next day she cycles down to the wholesaler in Deptford to get all the necessary supplies/ingredients. The café is open 6 days a week with Sunday being the only day off. To make the café profitable she does all of the above on her own as employing some-one to help massively cuts into any profit.

Quote from Michelle who works at Bryan & Keegan

“Over the last 2 years Stacie has been a brilliant neighbour, besides her yummy cakes and the best Mocha’s in Brockley she also become a good friend. Stacie inspired Croftfest and I saw her passion hard work and dedication to helping our area of Crofton Park become more established as a community.  She will be sorely missed and not easily replaced.  But will always remain a good friend.”

Very early on she engaged with the community, from supporting local artists/crafts people on selling their wares in the cafe and then started holding a few network support evenings which were a great success with other business women to share ideas. She has always hired out the space for local groups to use at very affordable rates and many families have used the cafe as a party venue for children’s birthdays. The local knitting group have been using the cafe for their regular meet up on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from virtually the day it opened and are definitely going to miss Stacie and her hospitality! However they have many happy memories of their times at the cafe and wish her lots of luck for the future. 

                                          

Quote from Liz James, local resident

“ The closing of Pat-a-Cakes will be a huge loss to Crofton Park. Stacie really did make her mark in the four years the shop was open. She’ll be hugely missed.”

Without doubt her greatest contribution to the community is her leadership on the organisation of ‘CROFTFEST and CROFTMAS. It has been a celebration of the area with its mini festival, involving many of the local businesses doing special offers/activities/discounts /music/food on one Saturday extending from St Hilda’s to the south and Jam Circus to the north with the library always participating.

It has been a great boost to the area and bringing together the many diverse businesses with lots of local residents supporting the event. Believe me nothing  would have happened without the drive and persistence of Stacie. She would organise all of the meetings/send out the emails/instructions/sort out the posters & social media and every festival day I would join Stacie and her mum, Carol, at the shop at 8.30am blowing up balloons and erecting the bunting on the railings so that the road would look pretty and inviting.

I would also earlier that week have spent an hour with Stacie helping devise the free treasure hunt for the kids-she would get it all typed up and I would buy the stickers/prizes. We always worked very well as a team and I don’t think I realise yet how much I am going to miss her! I should add here that I have never known anyone so quick and good at multi-tasking!. We will be chatting and she will ask what to include in a round robin email and before I blink it has been written and sent to my inbox whilst serving a customer and icing a cake!! I only watch and admire.

Sadly there is an immediate fallout with Stacie leaving as no Croftmas date has been arranged this year as no-one is prepared to take on the organisation of it. Hopefully in time other people will take on this mantle!

Quote from Caro Swan, resident of Crofton Park

“Stacie made an impact in Crofton Park for far more reasons than just her yummy cakes (and they are incredibly yummy).She's been incredibly good at empowering local businesses and making Crofton Park once again feel like a proper community. I shall really miss popping in for a gossip, talking weddings, lending her bits from my own kitchen, and will never forget when she prepared 120 cupcakes and three bowls of coloured icing for my work website launch (don't ask!). You're brilliant Stacie - far more than a baker! Stay in touch and all the best for the next chapter of your life! “

Another big thing she initiated was the ‘CroftonPark’ branding. We had collected a good few hundred pounds over the first few festivals via the raffle and decided to employ the wonderful Becci of ‘Betty Etiquette’ to design something that could be used on postcards and tote bags. I have attached pictures of the beautiful design that was adopted depicting our 5 key buildings of the area –being the Rivoli, library, station, Brockley Jack and St Hilda’s. They have been a great success and the tote bags have been going down a storm with a fourth colour in production. The profits made from this merchandise amounts to over £1500 and will be used to fund improvements in the area. 

Tribute from Pauline Morrison, local councillor for Crofton Park

“What shall we do without the little oasis in SE4

Where we gossip, drink tea and then some more

Not to mention the naughty but oh so nice cakes

Without them our hearts will surely ache “

Please keep in touch Stacie – Pauline

Tribute from Father Bates, vicar at St. Hilda’s

“Stacie has been a ground breaker in Crofton Park. The first new creative  enterprise opposite the station; The perfect combination of sponge and whipped cream; the variety of changing flavours making it a fun adventure to go to Pat-a-Cakes for a cup of tea and a chat. Being the driving force of the Crotfest and Croftmas events has been a real tonic: great net-working; respectful of existing  expertise; willing to share leadership; appreciation of different offerings: She has shown  grace and skill in an area that can be very taxing. Without her we would have had far less to show off Crofton Park as a Creative and committed community. Well done & thank you Stacie- don’t stop holding a creative vision that reaches out beyond yourself, don’t underestimate how special that is. We wish you every blessing and reinventing your life after Pat-a-Cakes”

A big mention needs to go to the actual mainstay of the business of Pat-a-Cakes which are her CAKES!! From her Victoria sponge to Nutella cupcakes to Lemon drizzle slice to scones they are all without exception very moist and delicious! I have been eating far too many lately and literally start salivating about my impending cake fix as I’m walking up there for my weekly/often biweekly visit. I think/hope my waistline will not miss her closing and intend having an amnesty on sugar for the next month.  She has increasingly had large cake orders for both cupcakes or celebratory cakes and this has certainly been a growth area over the last few years. One thing to add here is besides being delicious they are very reasonably priced with only recently been put up to the £2 mark.

        

She has also been very encouraging to local families whose children eagerly look forward to a visit to Stacie with a mid-morning or after-school treat. The toy box in the corner and the shelf of books has always been a big draw and children have gravitated towards their favourite book or toy. Stacie knows the names of all the children and has seen many grow up over the past four years

Quote from Jenny Wood, local resident 

"My family have been regular Pat-a-Cakes customers from the moment it opened and Stacie has become a good friend. Her cakes are amazing and she's always made our children really welcome. My little boy loves hanging out in the shop and is going to miss her - and her banana loaf - hugely. We wish her lots of luck for her future ventures."

Long term friend Jo Roberts and Crofton Park resident

" I have enjoyed going along for the ride that has been Pat-a-Cakes so far! From bringing fairy cakes to my baby shower 7 yrs ago and always being that friend to bring cupcakes to the party, to setting up a stall on a Sunday market to then opening a shop less than 5 minutes walk from my house! She has been an integral part of our community and has positively impacted it in so many ways. My children love to visit for a cake and a hot chocolate, daughter had her 5th birthday party there and we have all enjoyed the activities that she puts on especially CROFTFEST, cake decorating classes & cookie decorating to name but a few! Stacie will be sadly be missed but am excited to see what the next adventure will be."

Okay I think it is time to finish this blog but as is evidenced above she has made an enormous contribution to the area in the four years and certainly can be given the accolade as a ‘Stalwart of the community’ She will be greatly missed by many of us and we wish her lots of luck in her future ventures. I know I will continue to see her as along with many of her other customers she has become not just an owner of a cafe but also a good friend. BIG THANK YOU STACIE FOR HELPING IMPROVE CROFTON PARK AND PUTTING IT FIRMLY ON THE MAP. Hopefully this blog post will show how much you have been appreciated (sadly it is only when you lose something you realise then how much you value it!

Footnote Her last day of trading is on Friday but on Saturday she will be open selling all her stock and from 3 to 7pm will be there for anyone to pop by and say goodbye. See you there.

REMEMBER TO SHOP/USE/DRINK/EAT LOCAL

Watch out for my next blog which should get posted next week and will be covering Xmas events/happenings in the area!

Bye for now

Jane x