A row has erupted in north London after café group Benugo was awarded a new contract at the Parliament Hill Café on Hampstead Heath this week.
The City of London Corporation revealed it had awarded the contract for the café to the foodservice firm on Tuesday, with a view to updating the premises and offering the group's menu of sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads. The café had previously been run by 70-year-old Alberto D'Auria and his family.
However, the move on Parliament Hill has attracted criticism in the local newspaper http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/politics/cafe_chain_benugo_to_take_over_parliament_hill_cafe_and_two_more_1_4457336" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">The Ham & High, with Sally Gimson, a local councillor who voted against the Benugo decision, stating: "I have warned the committee there is likely to be an enormous backlash from the local community."
However, in a statement, a spokeswoman for Benugo defended the move, saying: "We are looking forward to being able to bring our fresh, high-quality, modern British food and flavours to these unique venues. We are of course very mindful that in some cases we will be inheriting established food operations and are confident that our vision, plans and menus for these spaces will be embraced by these local communities."
Sue Ireland, director of green spaces at the City of London Corporation, said that the corporation's priority was to give visitors good quality food and beverage in the most cost-effective manner, and added that this allowed it to invest over £5m per year into the facilities on the Heath.
Benugo operates over 50 sites across London and beyond, including shops in Victoria, Hanover Street, St Pancras International station and Luton Airport.
It also operates restaurants - including the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen, and the Museum Brasserie in Edinburgh - and public space outlets, including at the Ashmolean Café in Oxford, and the Natural History Museum, the Barbican centre, the English National Opera and the Wellcome Collection in London.