Bermondsey’s much-loved historic pie and mash shop is urging customers to get behind it as it fights to survive the gentrification of the borough.
Rick Poole, co-owner of Southwark’s Manze’s Pie and Mash stores, says the chain’s popular Tower Bridge Road branch is under threat as it struggles to keep up with the ever-changing times.
The 53-year-old, who co-owns the chain with his brothers Geoff and Graham, recently pulled out of a contract with delivery company UberEATS after it sparked backlash from some of their customers.
And he is now calling for customers to get behind the company, as they fight to survive the gentrification of Southwark.
Speaking to the News, he said: “Because of the Uber connection, a lot of customers were upset because it was stealing trade from the black cab drivers.
“We are always getting calls from office workers asking if we deliver and we had all of the UberEATS packaging ready to go – but we have to listen to our customers.”
Rick said he did contact Deliveroo, who also deliver in the area, but was told that they are not taking on any more customers at present.
The businessman told the News it is “not a case that the branch is shutting down” but that the delivery service was something that would have helped it to survive.
“There’s always the threat [of closure] because over the years so many things have changed for us in Tower Bridge Road,” said Rick.
“One of those things was the red route [which imposes parking and stopping restrictions on certain roads].
“You can drive up to the shop and not be in the red route – but as soon as you drive off you would be in it.
“Then they did away with any parking round the back of the shop, so we have to rely on people turning up in taxis or on foot. The parking is terrible.
“They also did away with the market stalls, which were always a help to the shop. Pie and mash shops have always been near markets and so that was another nail in the coffin. The whole area is changing; it’s getting quite gentrified and we need to find ways to keep going.”
Rick said he had not ruled out the idea of using a delivery service and would look to do so again in the future.
But until then, the business must find a way of reaching more people and needs to “move forward to survive”, he said.
“We need to evolve in ways but not so much so that it detracts from what the business is all about and how it has been for the last 100 years,” he said. “If I can reach more people then that would be a good thing.”
Manze’s boast their own delivery service to the entire UK. Visit their website for details.
Over 100 years of history
Manze’s started life in working class London back in Victorian times when eels were netted from the Thames and pastry was rolled by wives on their doorsteps.
The first Manze’s pie and mash in the area was formerly a Cooke’s Pie & Mash in Tower Bridge around 1891/92, owned by great grandfather-in-law, Robert Cooke.
The original ‘Manze’ brand belonged to Rick’s grandfather Michele Mansi, who immigrated to London from Italy.
According to Rick’s brother Geoff, the famous Manze name is in fact the incorrect spelling of their original family name.
The turning point in Michele’s life came when he “hitched up” with Robert Cooke’s daughter. The business inherited his name in 1902 after he took it over from his father-in-law.
At one stage the Manze’s empire included fourteen shops across south east London.