Questions have been raised over the ongoing viability of Erith Riverside Shopping Centre following the apparent closure of yet more retail units. In addition to the already closed Shoe Zone and. Wilkinsons store and the loss at this time last year of Argos, it would seem at the time of writing that now both Mambocino and the Erith Fish and Steak restaurant appear to have closed, or be on the verge of closing. As can be seen in the photos above - click on any to see a larger version - the Mambocino coffee shop / cafe has had all of the chairs and some tables removed, and the doors locked with no staff visible on site. The Fish and Steak restaurant has been closed for most of last week - although it was open for Thursday and Friday lunch service. I suspect that they may be trying to use up stock ingredients, though I do not know this for certain - if anyone has any information, please email me in confidence to email@example.com. Both the aforementioned Mambocino and the Fish and Steak restaurant are owned by the same person. His name is Gurhan Mustafa, whom I have contacted by email for his feedback - at the time of going to press, I have not received a response. It has been thought for almost as long as it has been open that the Fish and Steak restaurant had been seriously under performing. The place was almost always nearly empty though some people did get takeaways, but the main thrust of the business was meant to be eat in dining. Personally I ate there a couple of times and the food was good, but for some reason people did not warm to the place - its' website is currently down as well; it has to be said the opposite was true of Mambocino which before the COVID-19 pandemic was extremely busy. What had started out as a coffee shop soon transformed into an all day cafeteria which also offered roast lunches on Sunday. From several people I've spoken to, it would appear that the under performing Fish and Steak restaurant was heavily subsidised by the profits from Mambocino. This in the long term was financially unsustainable, also the number of visitors to Mambocino dropped off considerably even once the COVID-19 pandemic lock down had passed. If the two businesses are indeed closing, it will greatly affect the viability of the whole of the shopping centre. Now nearly all of the large retail units are standing empty with the exception of Matalan which is still trading for the time being, although I have heard (currently unverified) rumours that they too may be moving out in the not too distant future. If this does happen, I think that the financial viability of the rest of Erith Riverside Shopping Centre could be called into question. It has to be said that Mambocino and Gurhan Mustafa have courted controversy in the recent past. Back in May 2022, it was announced in both the local and the national press that Gurhan Mustafa, the owner and operator of both Mambocino and the Erith Riverside Fish & Steak Restaurant in Erith Riverside Shopping Centre had been found liable for several offences in respect of employment law, including not paying staff the national minimum wage, not allowing paid holiday, and racially harassing one specific member of staff. I have to say that at the time I was shocked by this. You can read the details of the summary judgement by clicking here. *Update* - Since I took the photos above on Wednesday of last week, there have been further developments in respect of Mambocino. As you can see below, the shop has now been almost completely cleared of furniture, and I saw a worker apparently disconnecting and removing a cooker from the kitchen to the rear of the unit yesterday. I have still had no response to the email I sent Gurhan Mustafa requesting clarification as to what is going on.
The recent history of night time hospitality in Erith is not great. The town has had a reputation for many years as being what is known as a dormitory town. That is one that people use in the daytime but not in the evening. In my experience people who wish to go out for a meal or a drink tend to travel to Bexleyheath, Dartford or Bluewater rather than going out locally. There have been attempts to change this behaviour, and in some instances they have been successful, such as with The Bookstore Cafe at The Exchange in Walnut Tree Road. Road. Unfortunately, this is an isolated success story, in most cases. Erith and Slade Green residents prefer to go elsewhere in their leisure time. If any reader has an insight into this and would like to be a guest author on next week's blog update, then please contact me and we can discuss it further. It is ironic when one considers the rich cultural resources in Erith. We have the largest theatre in the London Borough of Bexley. We have the longest pier on the River Thames, and the only Riverside Gardens in the whole of the borough. It would seem that the most successful restaurants in the town are the two African food outlets, One in Pier Road, and the other in Erith High Street. It strikes me that whilst these seem well patronised other outlets struggle. What do you think? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.