Jump to content

Speedy's


besleybean
 Share

Recommended Posts

Can't remember if I posted about this before, or where I put it, if I did.

I was all positive then:

cafe still open, seemed to have changed hands, though some of the staff still there and all of the Sherlock photos.

However, I have just had a return visit:

I was suprised to see Chris, the original manager/owner there.

So when he brought my coffee over, I expresed this to him.

It was almost one of those, wish I hadn't asked moments, but I did feel sorry for him:

he poured his heart out-

he is desperate to sell, but cannot find a buyer.

He is losing money and having to work extra hours, just to keep his head above water.

So it would have been a tad insensitive to ask about the Sherlock memorabilia...should he sell.

  • Sad 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, besleybean said:

he is desperate to sell, but cannot find a buyer.

He is losing money and having to work extra hours, just to keep his head above water.

Oh dear, thanks for the update, but I'm sorry to hear that!  Not too much of a surprise, seeing as how Chris has been wanting to sell for, what, a couple of years now?  If there's more Sherlock any time soon, that should provide at least a temporary upswing in customers, and might make it easier for him to sell the business -- although any potential buyers would presumably be aware that the upswing wasn't likely to last.

Our beloved local natural-foods store is closing soon.  All we've heard is that the landlord wants to sell the building, and one of the long-time employees said she suspects the landlord was raising the rent exorbitantly.

As I understand it, Chris is renting as well -- in a high-rent district to boot, so he may be in a similar situation.  I wonder what the building's owners would do if he simply moved out at the end of his current lease?  It'd be easiest for them if another restaurant wanted to rent the premises, but it might have trouble staying in business as well, being a bit off the beaten track.  They could convert it to a shop, but the conversion would cost -- and again, it's off the beaten track.  Another flat would probably be easiest to find tenants for, but that sort of conversion would cost even more.

Come to think of it, what would the Sherlock staff do if Speedy's were no longer there next time they want to film?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/16/2022 at 6:39 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

Oh dear, thanks for the update, but I'm sorry to hear that!  Not too much of a surprise, seeing as how Chris has been wanting to sell for, what, a couple of years now?  If there's more Sherlock any time soon, that should provide at least a temporary upswing in customers, and might make it easier for him to sell the business -- although any potential buyers would presumably be aware that the upswing wasn't likely to last.

Our beloved local natural-foods store is closing soon.  All we've heard is that the landlord wants to sell the building, and one of the long-time employees said she suspects the landlord was raising the rent exorbitantly.

As I understand it, Chris is renting as well -- in a high-rent district to boot, so he may be in a similar situation.  I wonder what the building's owners would do if he simply moved out at the end of his current lease?  It'd be easiest for them if another restaurant wanted to rent the premises, but it might have trouble staying in business as well, being a bit off the beaten track.  They could convert it to a shop, but the conversion would cost -- and again, it's off the beaten track.  Another flat would probably be easiest to find tenants for, but that sort of conversion would cost even more.

Come to think of it, what would the Sherlock staff do if Speedy's were no longer there next time they want to film?

 

 

Well, I had thought Speedy's was gone for good.  Kudos to Chris for waging the good fight.  I suppose Covid shutdowns have ultimately proved fatal to a lot of similar small businesses that were once thriving.  Given the cult status of Sherlock I'm surprised that he hasn't been able to find a buyer, though.  I would  have thought the fans making the pilgrimage to see those locations would keep the business afloat.  If the show were in the more recent past, maybe it would still, but the final season (to date) aired nearly 6 years ago now.  I think the realistic and practical view is that there isn't going to be more Sherlock to save the business on its own, anytime soon or frankly ever. 

However, Sherlock Lives!  His spirit is alive and well and he's still a flourishing cottage industry worldwide.  If influential Sherlockians could band together in a common purpose, as they did to raise monies to save Undershaw from demolition, they could save Speedy's.  The location would have to diversify.  It could retain its identity as a cafe but it needs to be more--rent itself out for private parties or scion society meetings.  Author Bonnie McBird is an American from L.A. but she splits her time between L.A. and London, where she's got a flat on Baker Street and presides as the doyenne of the Sherlock Holmes Breakfast Club.  If she could be recruited to host some of her meetings at Speedy's . . if they could have some performative readings there, etc. , it might rise again.  Maybe.  As much as we loved the show, it has been a full decade since it was at its peak in quality.  It was like lightning in a bottle and that kind of electric awesomeness wasn't destined to last.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for some of that information.

My only quibble would be to say that Sherlock mainly ended because of everyone becoming busy with other projects.

There was plenty more material to work with and I trust Gatiss and Moffat implicitly.

However, the time is now over...

If they couldn't manage a special for Una, it is not going to happen...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Hikari said:

If influential Sherlockians could band together in a common purpose, as they did to raise monies to save Undershaw from demolition, they could save Speedy's.

I was wondering about that myself.  However Speedy's would be a different sort of proposition from Undershaw -- it's a business rather than a building (the building space is rented) -- so it would necessarily be an ongoing project.

5 hours ago, Hikari said:

It could retain its identity as a cafe but it needs to be more--rent itself out for private parties or scion society meetings.

An interesting idea.  Sounds like Chris is currently working his fingers to the bone just to stay open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, though, so I'm not sure where he'd find the energy to handle evening events.  He's apparently not able to afford much of a staff anymore.  But depending on how much they'd be willing to pay, he might be persuadable.

5 hours ago, Hikari said:

Author Bonnie McBird is an American from L.A. but she splits her time between L.A. and London, where she's got a flat on Baker Street and presides as the doyenne of the Sherlock Holmes Breakfast Club.  If she could be recruited to host some of her meetings at Speedy's . . if they could have some performative readings there, etc. , it might rise again. 

Could you contact her?  It sure wouldn't hurt to pass along those suggestions, assuming that her Club is Sherlock-friendly.

******

Minimally, if Chris ever decides to close Speedy's, I would hope that Hartswood would acquire the canopy, so if they ever do get around to doing more episodes, Speedy's could live on in the Sherlock universe, at least.  (Alternatively, they could just patch in some old footage for an establishing shot.)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

I was wondering about that myself.  However Speedy's would be a different sort of proposition from Undershaw -- it's a business rather than a building (the building space is rented) -- so it would necessarily be an ongoing project.

An interesting idea.  Sounds like Chris is currently working his fingers to the bone just to stay open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, though, so I'm not sure where he'd find the energy to handle evening events.  He's apparently not able to afford much of a staff anymore.  But depending on how much they'd be willing to pay, he might be persuadable.

Could you contact her?  It sure wouldn't hurt to pass along those suggestions, assuming that her Club is Sherlock-friendly.

******

Minimally, if Chris ever decides to close Speedy's, I would hope that Hartswood would acquire the canopy, so if they ever do get around to doing more episodes, Speedy's could live on in the Sherlock universe, at least.  (Alternatively, they could just patch in some old footage for an establishing shot.)

 

Chris both is a renter and is responsible for finding a buyer?  Or did you mean that he just wants to hand over the cafe business irrespective of the building? The rent is obviously the killing factor, apart from the scarcity of staff.  This is why the only way to save the business at its current location would be if someone with the clout (and pockets) to buy out that building in order to preserve it as a sort of living Sherlock tribute could be found.  Where is Mycroft Holmes when we need him?

There are two main problems to this:

1.  Sherlock the show is not fondly looked upon by a lot of the dedicated hardcore disciples of the original Canon, the types that join the Sherlock Holmes Society of London and flock to Conan Doyle related sites. It's considered an upstart crow amongst purists.  Without the support of at least some of those folks, high-profile ones like Stephan Fry or Anthony Horowitz, the cafe's tie to a now-defunct quite short-lived TV programme from the 2010s isn't enough to sustain it.  Chris's current troubles are proof.  10, even 5 years ago, working at 'the' Speedy's from Sherlock would have been a plum gig, even for minimum wage.  The fact that he can barely get staff means that among the demographic most likely to seek employment in a cafe, ie, the young folk, Sherlock isn't even on the radar anymore, hence there's no cachet attached to the location now that the show's been off the air for so long.  That's how it usually is with TV--stay current or die or at best become relegated to nostalgia sites like this one.  It's now been off the air as long as it was on, with huge gaps between seasons.

2.  Circa 2012, at the height of Sherlock-mania, it was impossible to conceive that just a few short years later there'd be such a tremendous cooling off of commitment to the show from its writers and actors, but it was maybe inevitable.  One Sunday evening in 2010, Benedict Cumberbatch was a virtually unknown jobbing actor and by the next morning he'd been catapulted into international superstardom literally overnight.  Same with Martin Freeman, who was considerably better-known at the time but who was also rocketed onto the A-list in the blink of an eye.  Beatlemania was before my time; me and Rubber Soul made our debuts the same year.  Who could've predicted that just 5 years later, the band would be kaput?  Inconceivable!  But that level of fame and its attendant stresses is nearly impossible to sustain over the long term.  It becomes monolithic and swallows you up whole.  I think of Sherlock and the associated cult frenzy over the storylines and over the minutae of Benedict's personal life and movements in particular as a sort of Beatlemania for our time.  The candle that burns twice as bright lasts half as long.  If we remove the gaps of 1-2 years between outputs, Sherlock only lasted half or less time than the Beatles did as a working band.  What a run it was, though, when it was at its zenith.  The Beatles will live on forever and ever, even though half of them have left us and the remaining two are near or past 80.  Sherlock is destined to be relegated to 2010s pop culture ephemera, I'm afraid.

Without putting too fine a point on it, Sherlock was essentially abandoned by the people who brought it forth and gave it life.  Everyone got bored or fed up with it and moved on.  It would have been awesome if a group of people affiliated with the series had thought, "Let's buy Speedy's and keep our brainchild alive." None of Mssrs. Gatiss, Moffat, Cumberbatch, Freeman or the Vertues might have wanted to commit to running a restaurant fulltime, understandably, but they could have gone in as a collective to purchase the building and the business and turn it into a destination spot for the show's fans with the right people helping them to run it.   It's only a tiny venue but imagine the buzz there'd be if Cumberbatch dropped by for some readings from Conan Doyle, or if they had an annual memorial service there for Una and other members of the cast/crew that passed.  The time to strike that iron would have been when it was hot . . 2017, which is the last time that Sherlock was on our screens.  I think that ship has sadly sailed into the West, but we can pray for a miracle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Hikari said:

Chris both is a renter and is responsible for finding a buyer?  Or did you mean that he just wants to hand over the cafe business irrespective of the building?

The latter. basically.  As I understand it, he's selling the restaurant in situ, so the sale would include all furnishings plus the remainder of the current lease.

7 hours ago, Hikari said:

Sherlock the show is not fondly looked upon by a lot of the dedicated hardcore disciples of the original Canon....

That's what I suspected.

7 hours ago, Hikari said:

10, even 5 years ago, working at 'the' Speedy's from Sherlock would have been a plum gig, even for minimum wage.  The fact that he can barely get staff means that among the demographic most likely to seek employment in a cafe, ie, the young folk, Sherlock isn't even on the radar anymore....

I suspect that part of the staffing problem, possibly the main part, is that during the Covid lockdown, young people apparently got used to not working.  Around here, at least, businesses are struggling because not only is it hard to attract entry-level workers, but -- even worse -- many of the ones they do hire turn out to be unreliable.  I've been hearing that from the owners of the local health-food store and our veterinary clinic, and it's apparently a big problem for most types of business right now.

7 hours ago, Hikari said:

Circa 2012, at the height of Sherlock-mania, it was impossible to conceive that just a few short years later there'd be such a tremendous cooling off of commitment to the show from its writers and actors, but it was maybe inevitable. 

Mostly the writers, I think.  They seem to get bored easily (thus their departure from the original tone that made Sherlock popular, into an increasingly bizarre new style).  They tend to blame the actors' busy schedules, but I've heard no indication that they've even come up with ideas for one or more new episodes, or actually tried to find a calendar slot when the actors would be available.  Cumberbatch and Freeman were arguably at the top of their popularity somewhere around Series 3 -- yet they were wooed back not only for Series 4, but also for the intervening Special.

7 hours ago, Hikari said:

It would have been awesome if a group of people affiliated with the series had thought, "Let's buy Speedy's and keep our brainchild alive."

As you mentioned, that's not their area of expertise.  But more to the point, Sherlock is not dependent on the continued existence of Speedy's.  If the cafe closes, and if they want to continue the show after that, and if they want to keep Speedy's alive in the show, that's easy enough -- use existing film footage plus judicious camera angles in any new exterior shots, and mention "the cafe" now and then.

7 hours ago, Hikari said:

... imagine the buzz there'd be if Cumberbatch dropped by for some readings from Conan Doyle, or if they had an annual memorial service there for Una and other members of the cast/crew that passed.  The time to strike that iron would have been when it was hot . . 2017, which is the last time that Sherlock was on our screens.

5 hours ago, besleybean said:

Una wasn't dead in 2017!

I think Hikari meant if they'd bought the place in 2017, and then continued to host events there.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, besleybean said:

Again, just  a small point...

Una wasn't dead in 2017!

I'm sorry to confuse you . . what I meant was the venue could be suitable for a memorial of that type *now*, if it had been obtained back then.  As just one of the potential tie-in events they might have offered, if the space had been converted to such a use.  Not to be exploitative or to make profit from something like that, but as a gathering place for fans of the show and the cast to cherish their memories.  For something like a Benedict reading, they would have to issue tickets.  It's just an idea I was floating but it quite obviously won't be happening.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

But more to the point, Sherlock is not dependent on the continued existence of Speedy's.  If the cafe closes, and if they want to continue the show after that, and if they want to keep Speedy's alive in the show, that's easy enough -- use existing film footage plus judicious camera angles in any new exterior shots, and mention "the cafe" now and then.

I think we are approaching the Speedy's question from two divergent purposes.  As I am not expecting any more Sherlock to materialize, with or without exterior shots of the facade we know and love as Speedy's, I was focusing on how the restaurant itself might be saved to thrive in the future as a going concern.  Its Sherlock connection is what makes it unique as a selling point.  I've not heard that there's anything special about it otherwise to distinguish it from any of the other hundreds of cafes in Central London alone.  Were Mofftiss to, at this very tardy date, finally decide to squeeze out another season or even one measly holiday special, any production difficulties they'd experience as a result of waiting so long would not stir me to pity.  I don't care what they do now; my sympathies are with the heroic cafe owner just trying to keep his head above water.

It would be a very simple matter to insert already existing scenes of the facade from earlier episodes into new ones if they wanted establishing street shots of the outside of '221B Baker Street'.  Which as we know, has its facade in North Gower Street and its interior at an airplane hangar in Wales.  Apart from not being literally on Baker Street, Speedy's Cafe is not a constructed reality but it is exactly in real life what it plays in the show--a functioning cafe.  A 'real' location is a precious part of television history and should be preserved.  Certainly out of all their pooled and collective millions and millions of pounds the chief quartet has earned off of Sherlock and the part that Speedy's played in their cult success . . one might think they could at least help the struggling proprietor out with the rent.  Even if the production paid a consideration to the business for use of its name and exterior, it was probably a pittance and it'd be long gone by now.  Do you know if Chris was the original tenant when the show was running?

A gesture like that would go some way toward mitigating the utter travesty that Season 4 was to me.  I bet they could purchase the building outright and not even miss what it would cost.  Martin Freeman's Hobbit residuals alone must be in the several hundred thousand pounds per year.  Not to mention the roughly 6 movies a year Ben's been doing since the show wrapped.  

In a more perfect world, I'd have the money to give to Chris.  I've always fancied London; wonder if there's a flat above the store?  It's fun to fantasize about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, Hikari said:

Apart from not being literally on Baker Street, Speedy's Cafe is not a constructed reality but it is exactly in real life what it plays in the show--a functioning cafe.  A 'real' location is a precious part of television history and should be preserved.

I enjoy the knowledge that it's still (so far) there, myself.  On the other hand, and for a variety of reasons, things change.  A few years ago, the fans of Magnum: P.I. were indignant when the house whose exterior had been used as the "Robin's Nest" estate was not merely remodeled or repurposed, but totally bulldozed.  There were cries of "television history!" but the sad reality was that the house had not been well maintained, and therefore had, due to salt spray and tropical humidity, deteriorated badly.

Mercifully, I don't expect anything that drastic to happen to #187 North Gower any time in the foreseeable future -- it looks to be a good sturdy solid-brick building.  But it may not be home to Speedy's much longer, and I don't see how members of the Sherlock cast or crew have any moral obligation to help it survive.  They do their job, they get paid the agree-upon amount, and they move on to the next assignment.  If any of them decide it'd be a good investment, or even just fun to own the place, that'd be good news, but it's strictly up to them -- and who knows how long that phase would last?

9 hours ago, Hikari said:

Do you know if Chris was the original tenant when the show was running?

I don't know exactly how long he's had Speedy's, but he was definitely the restauranteur when they were filming Series 3, because Alex and I were there, and we saw him carrying numerous stacks of comestibles to the catering site around the corner.  There was clearly some sort of cafe in that spot (though they covered up the sign) when they filmed the unaired pilot in 2009.  By the time they filmed Series 1 in  early 2010, it was definitely Speedy's, and I've never heard any sort of hint that Chris isn't the original proprietor.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Couple things I forgot to cover:

12 hours ago, Hikari said:

Even if the production paid a consideration to the business for use of its name and exterior, it was probably a pittance and it'd be long gone by now.

They apparently rented Speedy's as their production HQ on filming days (though it was open for business early in the day if filming didn't start till later).  Also, as mentioned before, they clearly hired Chris / Speedy's to do the catering on North Gower days.  I have no idea whether they paid for use of the building's exterior in the show, but they never actually spoke the name "Speedy's" (they referred to it simply as "the cafe").

12 hours ago, Hikari said:

wonder if there's a flat above the store?

In real life, there are at least one on each of the upper floors, actually.  And I think there's one in the basement as well.  So (counting "221B" itself, there are three or four -- possibly more if any of the floors have two smaller flats.  There's a post around here somewhere about the one directly above Speedy's being for rent or for sale (I don't recall which) some years back, but I haven't found it yet.  Let's just say it wasn't cheap!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all, this includes a few pics of the flat upstairs.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-9368549/Flat-Sherlock-Speedys-Sandwich-Bar-available-let-1-365-month.html

As Beasleybean says “definitely not cheap.” That’s $1568 per month. £16k a year is less than many people earn in many parts of the UK.

 

ps. That’s weird. The link is saying ‘site can’t be reached.’ I just googled it again and clicked again to find the same message. Yet 5 minutes ago it showed the whole article with photos.

 

Edited by HerlockSholmes
Link found not to work
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you type ‘Speedy’s Cafe flat’ you might be able to find the Daily Mail article which has more photos of upstairs.

All this messing around and Carol will probably tell me “oh, someone posted the photo’s of the flat ages ago.”😄

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, HerlockSholmes said:

Edited 6 hours ago by HerlockSholmes
Link found not to work

Your original link works fine for me, Herlock -- on both my phone and my laptop.

Thanks for posting this!  I had seen this article (or a similar one) a while back, but couldn't seem to find it again recently.  Glad you did!

6 hours ago, HerlockSholmes said:

All this messing around and Carol will probably tell me “oh, someone posted the photo’s of the flat ages ago.”😄

I think someone did, but I couldn't find that either!  The forum's search function is a bit temperamental.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

P.S.:  Good ol' Daily Mail has good photos as usual, but the text of this article is also true to form, with errors in some easily-checked data.  Here are two that I noticed:

1.  The flat and the cafe are at #187 North Gower, not 185.

2.  The distance from Speedy's to the currently-official #221 Baker Street is about a mile and a quarter, not "half a mile."

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, besleybean said:

Maybe it's as the crow flies!

I don't think so - it's basically a straight shot down Marylebone Street Road, with a little hook on each end.  The straight part alone would be about a mile.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/2/2022 at 10:10 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

I don't think so - it's basically a straight shot down Marylebone Street Road, with a little hook on each end.  The straight part alone would be about a mile.

 

Hi Carol, I’m a month late. Yeah it’s over a mile. I’ve walked it and it feels like more. But I’m lazy🙂

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Who's Online   0 Members, 0 Anonymous, 3 Guests (See full list)

    • There are no registered users currently online
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of UseWe have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.Privacy PolicyGuidelines.