Since opening in December 2014, the Cereal Killer Cafe has had its fair share of brouhaha. Described by the Evening Standard as ‘The most hated men in London’, the Keery brothers have long been under fire regarding their contribution to the gentrification of Shoreditch. Of course, that was last year and so, and so keen to see what had changed for the wheaty-endeavour, I contacted them for an interview.
Upon getting in touch with the twins, I put a lot of sweeteners in the deal: full disclosure of the article prior to publication, prior disclosure of questions, and a review on a meal of their choice. To my surprise, I received a swift reply from a member of their marketing team who told me to pop down to their Camden branch where “we would love to set something up for you so that you can come down and, ideally speak to Alan and Gary.”
At this point I had one main journalistic objective: salvation. After all, three years ago I had found myself so enamored with the idea of this cafe that I contributed ten pounds to it’s crowd-funding page. Were the Keery brothers just two entrepreneurial scapegoats putting a face to the anti- gentrification voice? Or had they earned their stripes as breakfast loving villains? Already impressed with how they handled business, I was hoping the former to be true. The interview was being arranged with ease and my potential as a writer was being treated with respect.
In order for me to be honest, this is where the praise has to end.
I arrived in Camden – albeit ten minutes late – and ordered a hoc chocolate. Which I paid for.
I found a seat and waited until the woman I had been emailing came and sat with me. She told me that I wouldn’t be able to speak to anyone because they had meetings all day. Of course, one of them was siting adjacent to me on his laptop, and in the fifty minutes I spent there he met with nobody. The PR lady sat across from me, and emailed me press packs and pictures of the hot chocolate I was drinking – the shiny press ones, that is. At first, I was fairly amiable, but like a bad penny the reality of the situation kept bouncing back to me: I had been sent press pictures for a drink I had paid for, which I had ordered with an intention to drink during my interview with companies founder, who was now sat on his laptop, totally ignoring me.
The review I wrote that day is good to neither man nor beast. If it were titled it would be, through gritted teeth: How to pretend a place is ok when really you want to burn it to the ground.
Honestly, I don’t think that I was unjustified in my feelings. I had spent hours researching and forming my questions, I had travelled across London and paid for the world’s most over priced hot drink, and in return? Was emailed a pack I had already found online during my lengthy research process.
The moral of the story? Sometimes when my puppy is naughty I shut her outside. A stranger could come along and take pity on her but – ultimately – she’s outside for a reason. Cereal Killer have undoubtedly suffered at the hands of the press and perhaps my cold reception is the result of the relentless criticism by the media, but either way, here we go again – another bad review for the Cereal Killer Cafe.
Image by Joel Goldstein via Flickr