“Cheers” for Sydenham?

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Sydenham’s worst kept secret is out at last – Michael and Violeta Richards – the people who turned round the dump that was Forest Hill’s Dartmouth Arms into one of South London’s finest ‘Gastro Pubs’ have finally taken control of Sydenham’s Dolphin.

Sydenham Town has had to hold back on the news as the tortuous negotiations dragged on over summer and the Dolphin became a sadder place. Now the answer to the long running plea in the Town Forum for a ‘Middle Class’ pub is now very near to reality as the Dolphin is transformed in time for Christmas. At least three of Sydenham’s largest pubs have been put at risk as proprietors and management have given up. The Dolphin’s leasholders did a ‘runner’ in March (see Michael’s posting «here» ) and it has been hanging on with a series of temporary managers.

The Dolphin occupies a strategic position near the corner of Mayow Road and Sydenham Road and its loss would have been catastrophic to the area. Members of the Sydenham Society and the Town Centre Manager have worked hard to persuade someone to take a fresh look at what could be done. The basic problem is that Sydenham is well endowed with pubs – but many may be best described as ‘drinking dens’ and unattractive to a wide and possibly growing section of the community who look with envy with the transformation of nearby Forest Hill & East Dulwich.

A revitalised, attractive and comfortably refurbished Dolphin with good food and fine beers will be something new for Sydenham. It will be non-smoking and deliberately aimed at a more upmarket clientele. Is this just for the snobs? Well the Dolphin is opposite the best of Sydenham’s traditional ‘boozers’ – the Golden Lion so anyone wanting a smoke and a pint has not far to go. And next to the Golden Lion is the Pide Lahmacun Turkish Restaurant. Despite its rather gaudy neon this redevelopment of the old Crierion Ice Cream Parlour has a growing reputation for good food following the loss of ‘The Lokal’. Together the new Dolphin, the old Golden Lion, Pide and the Montecassino Italian Restaurant will provide an interesting and varied way to spend an evening eating and drinking.

Sydenham Town wishes Michael and Violeta well with the challenging task ahead. Surely an achievable task for the man who created the famous ‘Fire Station’ pub alongside Waterloo Station. Oh dear, if that was repeated the crowds would block the High Street!

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