London SE1 community website

SoBo brings coffee and art to Tower Bridge Road

London SE1 website team

London's first and only combined art gallery and espresso bar has arrived in Tower Bridge Road, the brainchild of Jam Factory resident Peter Leonard.

"I love living in this area – it is a lively, edgy mix of all types of people from all types of backgrounds" says SoBo founder Peter Leonard.

"The only downside is that there has, up to now, been nowhere around to satisfy the two big addictions in my life: art and coffee. And having got thoroughly fed up with hearing all my new neighbours whinging on about the very same thing, I decided that something had to be done."

"When the "To Let" sign appeared over the old fridge repair shop on Tower Bridge Road, I decided, almost on a whim, to go for it. It might work, I told myself, it might not, but at least it wouldn't be boring..."

Art and coffee are natural partners, claims SoBo's founder, sharing an ability to lift our spirits, stimulate our minds and send us on our way with a spring in our step.

The choice of SoBo as the name for this new venture is intended – says Leonard – as an ironic swipe at the estate agents who coined the term as a contraction of "South of Borough". The name has already sparked a lively debate in the London SE1 forum.

SoBo is located at 83 Tower Bridge Road, at the southern end of Bermondsey Street, in a parade that includes M Manze's pie and mash shop, a Caribbean food specialist, a bagel bakery, Lebanese deli and African wig and nail extension parlours.

As a local resident Peter Leonard is committed to the SE1 area, and has teamed up with Wild's Rents-based coffee roasters Rizzi Coffee, where for over 20 years Giovanni and his team have been selecting, blending and roasting the finest beans from around the world. Rizzi have created a special SoBo blend, described as rich, mellow, full of flavour, and with enough "robusta" to give that all-important kick!

Hand-made muffins, cakes and pastries are delivered daily and use only the best non-GM and free range ingredients. SoBo say that they purposely kept the food offer limited to maintain quality.

Art-wise, SoBo will provide a constantly changing exhibition featuring all types of modern and contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and ceramics. The launch exhibition is a mixed show offering a taster of all of the sorts of things SoBo hopes to showcase in the forthcoming months and years.

The launch exhibition we will present works by modern masters such as Henry Moore, Patrick Caulfield and AR Penck for less than 1,000. Alongside these will be works by contemporary stars such as Tracey Emin, photography by Hugh Gilbert and ceramics by celebrated potter Stephen Murfitt.

SoBo in the London SE1 restaurant guide

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