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Thanet: Sadness as well-loved The Kitchen CT9 set to close

Kent Live logo Kent Live 3 days ago Katie Boyden
The Kitchen CT9 in Cliftonville is closing © The Kitchen CT9 The Kitchen CT9 in Cliftonville is closing

A well loved community cafe which provides delicious low-cost meals is set to close at the end of May. The Kitchen CT9 in Cliftonville has been open for three years and was set up as the first major project by homelessness support charity The Iceberg Project.

Run by Alexander Roarke and Ann Newstead, The Kitchen CT9 opened the first community fridge in Kent for people struggling to pay the bills to pick up free surplus food donated by local shops. The cafe is also 'pay what you feel', ensuring people on low incomes in need of a hot meal are never turned away due to the cost.

Those who have never visited The Kitchen CT9 might then assume the food is boring, batch cooked and lower quality, but this couldn't be further from the truth. The food is restaurant standard, with the menu changing daily depending on what ingredients are available at the time.

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As a result it has 52 reviews on TripAdvisor - and every single one rated their meal 'excellent'. So it was a devastating blow to the community when The Kitchen CT9's team shared the cafe will be closing on May 28.

In a statement the team explained: "Our community needs help with basics like feeding their children, heating their homes, providing for themselves and their loved ones. Their need is for direct, daily support rather than a meal out.

"To that end, The Kitchen CT9 in its current format will regrettably be closing its doors on May 28. We will be taking the time to establish 'The Lounge' which will be a simpler, more relaxed venue next to our Loft premises at Westwood Business Park.

"This will be a space where we can still do community, over a coffee and a pastry, that will also provide space for ourselves and other community support groups to use, in the more comfortable surroundings of a front room instead of a classroom or office. Our project The Loft is providing beds for children currently sleeping on floors, furniture for families without a table to sit at.

"The Crossroads project is helping an increasing number of people access desperately needed support and services. These services will all be accessible via The Lounge. Thank you for all your support over the last few years and here is to many more, albeit in a slightly different format."

From the beginning the Thanet Iceberg Project, and The Kitchen CT9, didn’t want to define what need looks like in the community, and didn’t want to do the same as everyone else. Their statement explains further: "The Kitchen CT9 was our flagship project, our first love, aiming to build community through hospitality by making the quality-of-life thing of eating out accessible to all.

"The first pay-as-you-can place in Thanet, we have offered great food at the lowest possible prices through making use of surplus food and many, many volunteer hours. We launched the first Community Fridge in the whole of Kent, sharing surplus food – for free - to anyone able to make use of it.

"Our community reacted with support – local hospitality venues being very generous to help us get started, and members of the public donating. We have been open for three years and have a spectacular rating on TripAdvisor, have provided food and welcome to so many, as well as offering emergency support particularly through the pandemic."

Social media comments make clear how valuable an asset The Kitchen CT9 is to the Margate community. Suzi Cowell said: "You've all done a fantastic job and will be very missed. Good luck in all you do in the future."

Helen Watkins said: "It will be such a shame to see you go from The Kitchen CT9. You have done amazing for our local community. And I will most certainly miss you all." And Nicky Walker commented: "You have done an amazing amazing job for so many people, you have put heart and soul into making your project a response to need.

"I’m gutted that The Kitchen CT9 is closing, but I know also, that your heart and vision will always make you strive to meet needs wherever you see them. Thank you so much for your kindness, vision, humility and souls. We will look forward to seeing you in ‘the lounge’ when you’re up and running."

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