Barking Park cafe given new lease of life

PUBLISHED: 10:30 12 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:44 12 May 2017

Monika Drozd has taken over the café in Barking Park and rebranded it as Big Friendly Coffee.

Monika Drozd has taken over the café in Barking Park and rebranded it as Big Friendly Coffee.


A park-lover is hoping to grow a new crowd after taking over an empty café.

Monika Drozd says the coffee she serves is Monika Drozd says the coffee she serves is "better than Costa".

Monika Drozd opened Big Friendly Coffee in Barking Park last month after spying a business opportunity from her position as boat operator at the nextdoor lake.

“It’s a beautiful spot right in the middle of the park, it’s beautiful for families and members and needs to be used by the public,” explained the 35-year-old, who is leasing the building from the council.

With the help of her brother and a host of helpers, Monika has transformed the former greasy spoon Café in the Park into a chilled family space in just four weeks.

Fried food is no longer on the menu, and Monika has gone for a smoother aesthetic which includes wooden cloud cut-outs hanging from the ceiling and a black, white and duck-egg colour scheme.

“It feels like you are at home, it’s very friendly,” said the Woodford Green resident, who is employing up to four members of staff on busy days.

“We’ve got facilities for mums who can heat up their milk here, as well as a book-swap and community board.”

Serving everything from croissants to cookies and “better than Costa” coffee and baguettes, Monika wants to attract customers all year round, even when her company Place Your Space aren’t operating their seasonal boat trips.

“Everyone needs to know that it’s open. It used to be a seasonal business but you need to let people know you are going to be open.

Monika, a trained psychologist, arrived in London 15 years ago from her native Torun in Poland, and has always been drawn to green spaces after gaining experience at Hyde Park.

“I love having that freedom, it’s that personal touch when you are in the park you get to know all the people, it gets very personal,” she explained.

“I love parks, that’s my focus, she admitted, adding: “I want to give something back, making money on its own isn’t enough. I love the fact that you can make a tiny difference in the community.”

Big Friendly Coffee is open 9-5, Monday to Sunday.

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  • I do confirm, latte and cakes are amazing and it's just amazing place to stay with such a lovely view at the park and lake. I am looking forward to visit that place more often.

    Report this comment

    Damian Recek

    Friday, May 12, 2017

  • I have popped in twice in the last few weeks and can confirm the latte is delicious. Very enjoyable to sit outside overlooking the lake. Glad to learn of regular opening hours and shall try and visit on a regular basis to enjoy and support this cafe.

    Report this comment

    William George

    Friday, May 12, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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