How St Albans’ independent food businesses are continuing to adapt to the ‘new normal’

Artwork for The Ridgeway fish and chip shop by Zoe Andrews of Chalk Walk.

Artwork for The Ridgeway fish and chip shop by Zoe Andrews of Chalk Walk. - Credit: Archant

There’s plenty going on in the food scene locally, as ever! More places are opening up, albeit with social distancing in place, and I am very pleased that we are now allowed to go out and meet a friend. I had a lovely coffee out with a friend in a park; we sat a few metres apart with our flasks of coffee! Not quite the same as being in a cosy coffee shop, but it was a welcome boost!

Viento Coffee Company in Hatfield Road, St Albans

Viento Coffee Company in Hatfield Road, St Albans - Credit: Archant

I do have some coffee shop news for you (we do love our coffees shops!). Viento is a new café that has just opened in Fleetville, a few doors along from The Fleetville Larder. They are a coffee roaster based in Watford, where they also have a branch. You can buy the coffee as beans or ground for cafetiere, filter, espresso, French press or Turkish.

I popped in last week and bought arancini, which they heated for me, and they had a nice range of pastries and panini sandwiches. They have a breakfast menu for when they can open properly. It is a tough time to open a new business so I hope people go along and support them.

Bean Central, on Central Drive, is now open 9am-12 noon Monday to Friday for freshly roasted coffee, hot chocolate, milkshakes and homemade cakes and biscuits. They will be doing social distancing and ask you to queue two metres apart, and payments need to be contactless. The little shop is perfect for this – it only really fits one at a time anyway – so this is an ideal place to go for your coffee!

Our family delivery this week was from Ridgeway Fish & Chips. It was just as delicious as ever, and it was lovely to have it delivered to the door! Just go to their Facebook page to order. They do gluten-free on Wednesdays.

Bellacino’s in St Albans town centre is now open again for deliveries and take away. The menu is on or ring 01727 868681 to order. I am sure they will be very popular!

I spent an evening last week with our MP, Daisy Cooper, watching a film, The Story of Plastic, hosted by Sustainable St Albans. Although we all have a lot on our minds at the moment, it was very interesting to learn about where plastic comes from (basically the oil industry) and how plastic products are being created where before there wasn’t a ‘need’, eg food packaging in areas that used to manage quite happily with paper bags, such as sandwich packs, water bottles, sachets, mini packs of nuts, sweets, crisps etc.

With so much going on in the UK we are not looking at the issue of where our plastic waste goes.China is no longer taking it and there are not enough recycling plants in the UK so most of it is incinerated or goes to landfill. We just need to use less. This problem is not going away.

The St Albans Food Bank has more clients than ever before. It is very quick and easy to make a cash donation on their website or you can look for the St Albans Round Table floats who are in Marshalswick on Saturday (May 23) and Townsend Sunday (May 24). You can track them on They need non-perishables such as tinned fish, veg, meat and beans, jams and spreads, tea bags etc as well as toiletries and laundry tabs.

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Heaven is a Cupcake is planning to take orders again from May 26. I know they have lots of loyal customers for their special occasion cakes and cupcake boxes, so do check their website for info.

The White Lion is open again for takeaway food (weekends I think at the moment), with fish and chips and their excellent Sunday roasts now available for collection. Email and get in early (by the Friday afternoon) for the slots. It is hard to get a table there, so this is your chance to try their cooking! I do hope they are able to open the lovely pub garden again at some point this summer.

Bar Meze is open for takeaways on Saturdays and Sundays but you can also contact them if you want an order on another day for a special occasion. Go to for the menu and the price is 15 per cent off at the moment.

Papa Paella is ‘open’ for business at the White Horse in London Colney. You need to place your order on the Thursday for Friday delivery or Saturday collection. Call or text Carmelo 07957 451846. I shall be glad when they are back in St Albans market.

Although it is great that so many places are starting to open again, we must remember that they are running much smaller operations at the moment, and they have had to lose staff, take a huge hit in earnings as well as think about how to run their businesses differently. It is still a very difficult time for all our indie food businesses, and your support is so important and valued.