It would be unfair to visit comedian Russell Brand’s Trew Era Cafe simply to sample its vegetarian cuisine when the history behind this venture makes it even more of a curiosity and also proves that some celebrities do have hearts as well as wallets. Brand famously made a stand against developers who wanted to uproot the residents of the New Era estate in Haggerston and double the rent. Once he had seen them off with some very public protests he then used his own money to open the Trew Era Cafe on the estate.
The cafe is run as a social enterprise and is staffed by former drug addicts in abstinence-based recovery. Brand’s own well documented substance recovery, no doubt, at the heart of his decision to give others a working sanctuary on the hard road to staying clean. The cafe doubles up as a meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous in the evening.
Brand’s stamp is everywhere – on the cafe walls are snaps of him with residents during the protest alongside leaflets about campaigns dear to his heart. It’s fair to say that Trew Era has a community feel and its prime function is to make human beings feel valued. The knowledge that everything you spend is truly changing the lives of others outweighs all else. However, the Pine Nut and Feta Cheese Salad, priced £4.50 comes well recommended!