My last stop in London before catching my Greyhound to Toronto was at Ritual Cafe. I unambiguously love this place. I have been stopping by a few times a week since it opened a couple months ago. Miljan, the owner and manager, has always been so kind to me and he knows how to hire too. The baristas have the skills and knowledge to back up the chic atmosphere that places guests in a comfy urban oasis to work, study, or socialize.
Before Ritual was Ritual, Miljan had a restaurant called Black George at the same location. The service there was equally impeccable. It was expensive enough to stop me from coming in several times a week –fine dining is but an occasional treat for me at this stage in my life– but the staff always remembered my name and my dietary preferences as if I were a cherished regular.
These businesses exemplify the reasons why I love small, locally owned enterprises. The faces are always familiar, the relationships are real. All the products they offer come with careful thought and are made with love. This is the kind of consistent authenticity that Starbucks could never refine into a corporate system.
As I walked in today with my gaudy travel backpack that is a dead give-away to touts the world over that I’m new in town, my fave café crew saw that it was good-bye for now. Hugs all around made me realize how much I’ll miss these people (and their amazing coffee and pastries). Genuine relationships are what keep communities together and Ritual does just that.
It provides a space for people to get together. In the past couple of months, I have seen first dates, heated debates, and study breaks. It’s always my first suggestion for where to meet. I don’t worry that it won’t be around when I get back because it is always buzzing with activity. It is clear that Londoners feel the sense of comfort and community that I feel there as well.
Ta ta for now Ritual!