Mexican food chain Wahaca eyes Brixton branch

Wahaca eyes Brixton branch
Wahaca eyes Brixton branch

Click here for Luke’s latest piece on Wahaca opening in Brixton next week

It’s come to our attention over here at the Blog that Wahaca (like Wagamama but for mexican food), is putting in an application for a Brixton premises license to Lambeth Council. Parent company Oaxaca Limited (pronounced Wahaca – get it?) has put in the application for a site at 20 Atlantic Road: Brady’s Bar. Built in 1880 and with its iconic clocktower, Brady’s Bar (previously the Railway Hotel) is a Brixton landmark which has been left empty for over a decade. The premise license covers food, alcohol and (recorded) music until 1.30am, Monday to Sunday.

Click here for Luke’s latest piece on Wahaca opening in Brixton next week  (October 2014)

There have been various attempts to use the building as a community centre, but ultimately Lambeth Council sold the building to property developers a few years back. And apparently this is where it’s been heading.

Developers have been under fire recently (as reported on page 4 of this month’s Brixton Bugle) after apparently breaching planning permission when they demolished a part of the building. Cllr Pete Robins (Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration) told the Bugle: ‘Conditions were attached [to planning permission granted in February] and the construction phase shouldn’t start until further details have been approved.’

Brady's Bar by James Oses
Brady’s Bar by James Oses

The ‘mexican market eating’ specialist would be following the path trodden by other major chains like Starbucks in staking out spots in the commercially fertile ground of Brixton. With other branches located in Soho, Covent Garden, and Canary Wharf (among others) this would be the gem in the crown, or nail in the coffin, of a gentrified Brixton: depending which way you like to slice your avocados. That’s a metaphor.

What do you think about the move? Tell us in the comments below.

21 COMMENTS

  1. The lease amount for this building was set so prohibitively that it would have not been commercially viable for any ‘local’ business to take over this great building. In addition, the refurbishment cost is bound to be astronomical and pose many issues for the new tenant. Good luck to whoever takes it on – it will take ages to recoup their initial outlay.

    Personally I think Wahaça is average in food quality, at best, however, you will be surprised how successful places can be when you employ a team of interior designers to make the place look rustic and trendy , spray a few stencils on the wall and generally bastardise everything Mexico is known for with cheesy themeing. Plus if you spout on about how eco-friendly you are it will go down a storm, especially with new Brixtonian’s.

  2. NTT, I think the food at Casa Morita is dreadful and overpriced. El Panzon is an o.k. burrito joint. But Wahaca is a full-service restaurant. No comparison.

    I have not seen any responses regarding why we should be happy for that beautiful building to fall into ruin rather than welcome an investment that will save this wonderful space which we will all be able to enjoy.

  3. I met the father of my child in Brady’s 17 years ago so I’m more than a little romantic about the place. It’s been horrible to watch it fall into such a bad state over the years so I am delighted that somebody is finally doing something with such a fantastic building. Personally, I like Wahaca and I would rather see them in there than Pizza Hut or Yo Sushi, or it remain derelict for another ten years!

  4. Great news for Brixton. This is a gorgeous building and it makes me sad to see it as a wreck. All those worried by a chain moving in relax.. in the end it will bring more people to Brixton to eat out and spend their money – helping the independent traders. Just make sure pret et al aren’t allowed in the actual market.

    Also be great if the farmers market was much bigger – Borough has become too pricey so Brixton could take over and serve Londoners with quality British produce.

  5. It would not be my first choice but, if it is not wanted, it will fail.

    And it has to be better than what we have now : a wreck.

  6. Shame such a classic building is to become a chain eatery, and Mexican one at that that. Its conjures images of those American restaurants that have this out of place theme housed in an old beautifful building. However having said that, the fact tthat this building has been left to rack and ruin by previous administrations and residents of Brixton – shamefully, or maybe just because it was in a part of Brixton overcome by tatty trading outlets, dingy streets and no town planning at all, means to me that an offer of breathing new life, any life into the pace has got to be an improvement. I am looking forward to seeing the tower restored to its former glory (which i never saw) but hopefully without some tacky neon badly juxtaposed with it.

  7. Wahaca moving in and trading off the markets (mostly) independent businesses with its ‘street food’ name… Could not think of a worse fit for Brady’s. Would desperately love to see the site re-open but not with another high street chain.

    Wahca can do one, cant they just hop over to the border in clapham where their generic tastes would be better appreciated?

    • NTT, I think the food at Casa Morita is dreadful and overpriced. El Panzon is an o.k. burrito joint. But Wahaca is a full-service restaurant. No comparison.

  8. We need to remember that the proposed site on Atlantic has been empty for TEN YEARS! It’s a beautiful and neglected building that badly needs a significant investment, the sort of money that only a private business can deploy. The Brixton / Clapham / Camberwell / Herne Hill / Dulwich neighbourhoods badly need a good Mexican restaurant. Wahaca fits the bill. The fact that it would include the renovation of a beautiful landmark building is a bonus, in my view!

    • “The Brixton / Clapham / Camberwell / Herne Hill / Dulwich neighbourhoods badly need a good Mexican restaurant.”

      Theres already (the outstanding) Casa Morita and El Panzon, how many Mexican restaurants do we “badly need”?

      • Well you could say the same thing surely about Indian, Thai or Chinese? For such a large area surely Casa Mohita is a little small to cover such a patch. Would you like to regulate it so that only one Indian restaurant is aloud? . Of sourse not. I guess ‘badlly needed’ is an exaggeration, just like the ridiculous phrase used by the original author ( the doomsday usherer) that this new mexiican is the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of Brixton Gentrification – whatever that means. Its a restaurant – if it succeeds then good luck to them. Most restaurants fail within theri 1st year. What has been remarkable about Brixton Village is the number that have survived that long. We’ll see I guess if this one is as robust. If its one too many, then market dynamics will surely close it, if it survives, then it may not have been badly needed, but needed enough to make a living

      • Alex, I think the food at Casa Morita is absolutely dreadful and overpriced. I do not know anyone who believes the food there is “outstanding”. And El Panzon is a fine burrito joint, not a Mexican restaurant.

  9. I love Wahaca, it’s a great restaurant with good food and pretty decent ethics. However, I don’t really want one in Brixton. The higher rents they pay will have a knock on effect, potentially push some of the smaller business out paving the way for Pizza Express and god forbid, Las Iguanas.

  10. Well, I love Mexican food so must say, I’d rather see them than Byron (e.g.)… I’ve been in Brixton for 6.5 years and for the first 3 would joke, “do you fancy fujiyama, fujiyama, or fujiyama”, are there too many restaurants in Brixton?! If we’re reaching saturation point then I’d hate to see business taken away from the independent eateries.

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