Foodservice operator Benugo has pulled out of a catering contract to run a cafe in London’s Hampstead Heath after listening to feedback from locals who opposed the decision.
As revealed by FEJ earlier this week HERE, customers of the Parliament Hill café launched a petition in response to Benugo’s appointment as the café operator in place of the D’Auria family, which had run the site for more than three decades.
More than 13,000 supporters signed the petition, with a public meeting to discuss the matter taking place earlier this week, which Benugo bosses attended.
Ben Warner, founder of the business, released a statement today in which he said that the company had taken the comments of customers on board and decided to pull out of the contract. He called it the “right thing to do”
He said: “We were delighted to have been chosen to run this prestigious venue – as a user of the park and someone who lives nearby, it was a proud moment for me, personally. However, having listened to the opinions of local residents and people who use the Heath, many of whom are existing customers of ours, we have paused to reconsider our position. Having given this a lot of thought I, and my colleagues at Benugo, now firmly believe that the right thing to do is to step aside.”
Warner also confirmed that the firm would be withdrawing from the opportunity to operate the two other nearby venues within the North London Parks, Golders Hill and Highgate Wood.
“We’ve listened, and are responding in the way we think is best for all. I would like to thank everyone who has engaged with us on this issue, and also, to wish all users of the Heath, and the future operators of these venues, the very best,” he added.
The City of London Corporation, which awarded Benugo the contract in the first place, said that it would now re-issue the tender for the operation of the three sites.
A spokesperson for the corporation said: “We understand the reasons for Benugo’s decision and accept they have acted in good faith throughout. In view of public concern we will now re-issue the tender for running of the Parliament Hill, Golders Hill Park and Highgate Wood cafes to make sure we do what is in the best interests of the Heath and its visitors.”
Benugo was founded in 1998 and as well as public spaces it operates on the high street and through concessions within some of the world’s largest corporate organisations. Its offering ranges from salads, sandwiches and own bakery goods to finer dining.