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Owner, Lakwatsa Bubble Tea Lounge
I was born and raised in this area - always a ‘Grove Girl’. I’ve always dreamt of having a business here, in my area. I used to walk past this street and I loved it. I used to think 'one day' and that’s why this feels so surreal. I believe Portobello is unique in its own way because it has got a mix of everything; it is very diverse, very multicultural. It’s the mix of affluent and ghetto and everyone gels together. There’s none of that separation. That’s what I love about it. It has so much character.
It’s funny because you still see the same people you used to see like 15-20 years ago, which is so nice. They’re still walking around. I guess what’s changed most is the shops. We used to have this toy shop called Barnet’s. Anybody that grew up in the area knew what Barnet’s was and all the kids used to go there and just have fun. That was like a staple of Portobello, especially for the kids. Now, it's a lot more high street shops I guess.
I grew up in council housing, and I mixed with the people that owned mansions here, and people loved it. I lived on the 6th floor, I used to look out my window and think “I want a house like that”. It was so nice, it was like a picture. There was always this blue house directly in front of my window. I actually drew it. I drew the whole street and there was that blue house that just stood out. I loved where I grew up because it had such a community feeling. All the kids played in the courtyard, we had our local playground we always used to go to, and then we’d come to Portobello and just run around and chill. Actually it was sitting on a wall in Portobello when I was a teenager that I first thought I want to open a lounge because I thought there weren’t many places for young kids to chill out and go to; not only young kids but also students and young professionals. So I really wanted to make it a mix of things to cater to all sorts of people around the area and, because I know the area and I grew up here, I knew what it needed.
There has to be a balance in my view, as long as there isn’t a majority of high street shops we'll be good. It has to be kept at a minimum as that’s what makes Portobello; the cute little boutiques that you can’t find anywhere else, the ones that stand alone and that are really quirky and unique. That’s why people come here.