Barking Park café opens following its revamp but boating lake still shut

The cafe interior

The cafe interior - Credit: Archant

Barking Park’s new café has finally opened a year after a huge revamp, but its boating lake is still shut.

The cafe interior

The cafe interior - Credit: Archant

Cafe in the Park, in the new visitors’ centre, has been taken on by Mani Caterers.

The cafe interior

The cafe interior - Credit: Archant

It had been hoped that the cafe would open when the £7.5million redevelopment was completed in May last year, but there has been a delay in “finalising legal arrangements” with the contractor said the authority.

As part of the makeover, a pontoon and boats were introduced on the lake but the boat hire service is not yet operating. The council told the Post an operator has been found but were unable to say exactly when service would start.

Park user Tony Richards voiced his disappointment: “Those boats, which cost thousands of pounds, have been floating idle for a year now. They keep saying they will open soon but it doesn’t happen.”


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Tony however praised the new cafe, saying: “The fare is nice and the service is good.”

A number of Facebook posters said the cafe looked great, though some felt prices were a little high.

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Manager Isha Mani, whose family owns 10 coffee shops in London and Essex, said the feedback from visitors had been very positive so far.

“Many of the locals say that the park has been crying out for a café for years and are really happy that we are here.”

She admitted, however, that the number of customers had been low since the café opened about two weeks ago. “Hopefully, it’s just because people don’t know about it yet,” she said.

The cafe serves ice cream, snacks and a variety of hot and cold meals.

A council spokesman said: “On completion of the building works in 2012 the council successfully secured an operator for the café but it has taken time to finalise the associated legal arrangements and understandably the operator did not wish to open during the quieter autumn and winter period.

The cafe serves ice cream, snacks and a variety of hot and cold meals including English breakfasts, fish and chips, lasagnes, jacket potatoes and paninis.

A council spokesman said: “On completion of the building works in 2012 the council successfully secured an operator for the café but it has taken time to finalise the associated legal arrangements and understandably the operator did not wish to open during the quieter autumn and winter period.

“An operator is in place for the boating concession and we hope to have them in place in the very near future.”

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