A CELEBRATION this Sunday will mark the closure of an extraordinary venture after six successful years. And if that sounds like a contradiction in terms, well it is – just like the venture itself.
Pepperton UK is a vegetarian restaurant and art gallery based in a secondary shopping parade in South Norwood. It has confounded conventional commercial thinking – including mine.
Vivienne Newbould, a former work colleague, first drew my attention to the business and invited me to lunch there to see for myself. She was enthusiastic about it, while I was initially sceptical.
A vegetarian restaurant and an art gallery as separate businesses might struggle in any part of the borough outside Croydon town centre, I thought, but the two together in this unlikely location was surely a recipe for failure.
This I had to see. And I did, in the process meeting Celestine Agbo for the first time. Celestine is a remarkable man: gentle and unassuming, but quietly determined, he exudes calm and infuses the atmosphere around him with a sense of well-being.
At that first encounter, over an enjoyable meal and an amble around the gallery he told me the enterprise would do well, despite the apparent contradictions, and I believed him.
I have seen Celestine and his wife Bula at various business gatherings in the years since. He is always a pleasure to listen to; invariably, he has a fascinating tale to tell.
The business has courted a clientele from a wide geographical area, the couple have persuaded the ‘arty set’ to venture beyond central London into what many of them would surely see as the cultural wastelands of southern suburbia.
Bula has put together some fascinating combinations of pictures to create a succession of artistically significant exhibitions that have helped to increase the interest, not to mention the footfall, in her corner of south London.
I have no idea what new pastures the couple have decided to explore now, but despite the present economic climate, I’m certain it will be unconventional and that they will make it work.
We are lucky to have such a pair of entrepreneurs in our midst.
Member since: 10th July 2012
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