I’m not a big social drinker but whenever I do fancy a quiet sit down with a comic book and my thoughts I inevitably wander over to Mello Mello, a non-profit bar and cafe run by a bunch of friendly enthusistic hippies. I remember when it first opened nigh on four years ago, they had no tables, no bar and not even a proper floor. Now I’m sitting in one of the most well known indie venues in the city.
I’ve seen everything here from music (Stealing Sheep, pic r) to comedy to theatre to instilation art and I’ve performed here myself countless times as a magician and a comedian. It’s the perfect space for those learning their craft (I’m a LIPA graduate) to get in front of a live audience. And, for all our talk of culture, there’s not too many of those in the city: especially if you’re not in a band. So Mello’s loss will be greatly felt on the city’s small-scale performance circuit. We can’t all fill out the Arena in our first tentative years. So what happens when these venues go? The artists go too. And the city should be focused on doing all it can to retain its graduates.
The kitchen serves excellent veggie food – and that’s coming from a lover of all that is meat (the lasagne is the best I’ve had in the city). They have a wide range of organic lagers, spirits I’ve never heard of and they even sell that fentimans cola that tastes just like haribo. The staff are all wonderful folk, most of them performers who were here from day one working voluntarily.
Now the cafe can afford to pay a wage. It’s social entrepreneurship at its best, and it’s working.
A place by the people for the people. Now they may be forced to close down. The council has recently removed the relief rates of the Community Interest Company (which stood at 80%) to zero meaning they would forced to pay the full £30,000 in rent which is unfeasable and would force administration. Have the council offered to negotiate another rate, 60% maybe? Maybe even 40%? Appears not. Apparently Mello is “not being aligned to the high priorities of the city council”.
Do I recall this city winning some capital of culture award not to long ago? A suggestion that maybe it cared about local performers, artists, business folk investing in creative industries as a way to get us moving forward again? Don’t get me wrong, times change and things get expensive but not even being able to negotiate the rate? I’m willing to bet that the moment Mello’s doors close a sign announing new apartments, or even more student accomodation magically appear.
Funny about the increase in student housing around this city straight after the £9000 a year fees were announced but hell thats just good business I suppose. Although it will mean that I’ll be forced to go to Starbucks the next time I feel all cosmopolitan. I’d like to say that I won’t, I’ll boycott all of this industrialist capatilist bullshit but I won’t, I’ll just order a grande latte like everybody else because a man needs caffeine but I won’t be happy about it, I’d be sitting there remembering how awesome Mello Mello was and how I wished it hadn’t been torn down. At least I’ll know I gave it my support. I advise you to do the same. You can sign the petition at the foot of the SevenStreets interview here.