Mexican street food success story Wahaca may soon be contributing to the regeneration of Brixton by opening another new restaurant in the area.
The chain, co-owned by 2005 Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers, has already opened a further 9 branches since their flagship Mexican cantina opened in Covent Garden in August 2007.
As well as the original, they now have thriving Mexican restaurants in Canary Wharf, Charlotte Street, Islington, Soho, Southbank, Stratford, Waterloo, White City and Bluewater Shopping Centre, plus two mobile restaurants which travel around London.
Brixton – the regeneration
Their new Brixton branch, if it goes ahead, will be housed in 20 Atlantic Road, an iconic building and local landmark which has now sat empty for more than 10 years. Built in 1880, the site was formerly home to Brady’s Bar, and before that, the Railway Hotel.
A planning application has already been submitted to Lambeth Council by Oaxaca Limited, the restaurant’s parent company, to cover the provision of food, alcohol and music (recorded only) until 1.30am, Monday to Sunday.
Previously there had been several unsuccessful attempts to turn the site into a community centre, but the building was eventually sold to developers a few years ago.
If the restaurant goes ahead, it will be the latest in a long line of businesses to move into Brixton in recent years – a process which has divided opinion among local residents. While some embrace the idea of regenerating and ‘freshening up’ areas which have become tired and run down, others consider it the ‘gentrification’ of the area – driving up prices and attempting to turn what was a vibrant, independent melting pot into just another corporate enclave.
It will be interesting to see whether the locals of Brixton embrace Wahaca enough to make it as resounding a success as their other branches.
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(Images from Wahaca.co.uk)