Tesco buys Giraffe

14 03 2013

Giraffe in Cabot Circus is now owned by Tesco, after the supermarket group bought the restaurant chain for £48.6m. Founded in 1998 in  London, the Bristol branch is one of 47 now across the UK and one in Dubai.”We think our customers will love it,” said Tesco commercial director Kevin Grace.

Giraffe in Cabot Circus, Bristol

Cafes vs commerce vs consumerism

11 10 2011

Here at Bristol Culture HQ, we like to be first with the news of cafe openings in Bristol, taking it upon ourselves to go through the hardship of sampling the coffees and cakes so you don’t have to. Although we won’t be visiting, a sense of duty therefore binds us to inform you that a new Costa is opening imminently on Whiteladies Road:

This latest Costa in Bristol used to be F Derbyshire newsagents, which had served the local community for more than 50 years, before increased competition forced them to sell up. Here’s what the shop used to look like up until a few weeks ago:

There was no uproar about the opening of this Costa, unlike over on the Gloucester Road where a petition organised by local traders convinced the council not to allow a franchise operation to open in what used to be an employment agency:

Just down the road from here is a new Sainsbury’s Local, featuring the largest baguettes we have ever seen in our lives, dwarfing that poor solitary pigeon:

Less than a mile away, there was of course uproar when this Tesco Express opened on Cheltenham Road. If you look at the reflection in the shop windows below, you can even see the squat which kickstarted most of the now infamous trouble:

There’s quite a trend for these smaller versions of supermarkets to open up in Bristol at the moment. What was once Woolworth’s at the top of Whiteladies Road is now another new Sainsbury’s Local. There was a bit of a fuss kicked up about this opening, but it opened anyway, quietly, without any riots:

This post with an unusually high number of pictures is approaching its end without much of a reasonable conclusion in sight, other than to say this: don’t get your morning pastry from the new Costa on Whiteladies Road, there are some for sale a million times better at Hart’s Bakery, about one minute’s walk away on Hampton Lane. And don’t get your morning coffee from Costa either, a highly recommended nearby cafe is Chickpea on Cotham Hill.

And although all these new mini-supermarkets will continue to open up, please do your best to support Bristol’s independent traders, whose livelihoods rely on your custom.

Stokes Croft riot, the aftermath

23 04 2011

Photographs of the Stokes Croft riot make the front page of two national newspapers today. The story of police trying to evict squatters who allegedly were making petrol bombs, the catalyst for the riot and subsequent burning of the new Tesco Express on Cheltenham Road is seen as an allegory in the Independent for the “swelling currents of resentment against corporate giants”.

If Tesco is the loser, Bristol wedding and documentary photographer Jonathan Taphouse is the winner, with his vivid photographs of the action – fires burning, dogs barking, rioters shouting – used by much of the media in the absence of national news crews on the scene.

Was the backlash against Bristol’s 31st Tesco, in an area immensely proud of its independent spirit, inevitable? In today’s Evening Post, Claire Milne from the No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign, says, “I told you so”.

Were the police, attempting to evict the squatters at the start of the Easter bank holiday, too heavy-handed?

These are two of the key questions after a night in which Bristol and Stokes Croft hit back at The Man.

In last week’s Venue, Chris Chalkley from the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, urged readers, with tongue firmly in cheek, to “welcome the supermarket into the local community”. “Now the wait is over, and we finally have the unique opportunity to sample the unique delights of Tesco’s latest local store,” wrote Chalkley.

As soon as the store opened, protesters were camped outside. Protesters have vehemently opposed Tesco opening in Stokes Croft every step of the way, as vociferous in their protests against the store as Tesco have been stubborn pushing it through the planning stages until permission was finally granted by councillors.

But the Stokes Croft riot was not because of anti-Tesco protesters. The opposition to the shop is widespread and the riot would never have happened if Tesco had not opened. However, the people starting fires and engaged in running battles with police were rioters, not protesters. They were engaged in mindless violence and spurred on by a mob mentality, the direct opposite of the No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign’s thoughtful statements during the planning process.

As word spread, fuelled by up-to-the-minute reports on Twitter from the likes of @PearCafe that Stokes Croft was burning, more and more people turned up to spectate and in some cases participate. Even Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy went down to join the fun, getting shoved by police in the process.

What began peacefully, with two people sat on top of a bus shelter playing saxophones, soon escalated into all-out violence: bottles and concrete blocks thrown at police, a police car destroyed, police and rioters hospitalised, Tesco trashed.

Two police officers are currently stationed outside what used to be the Tesco Express on Cheltenham Road (below), with glass littering the street where the riot took place and squatters defiantly remaining in the building opposite known as Telepathic Heights, in which police allege the petrol bombs were being made.

Tesco remains closed today. However, it will defy local resentment and will soon re-open. The supermarket giant is a master at playing the long-game, but on Cheltenham Road they have a battle on their hands, one that erupted literally on Thursday night into Friday morning and one that will continue for a long time to come.


Keep Tesco out of Stokes Croft

24 02 2010

The battle to keep Tesco out of Stokes Croft is hotting up. After the march last weekend to keep the supermarket giant out of the former Jesters comedy club (video here), the building is now being squatted. Whatever your views on squatting, I think a pat on the back should be given to those involved for their desire to keep the evil Tesco away.

For more, visit www.notescoinstokescroft.org.uk