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Artbox Cafe opens Brighton cafe with Pusheen the cat

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A TASTE of Japanese creativity is the order of the day at a new cafe.

The Artbox Cafe is now open in East Street, Brighton.

It describes itself as a “character cafe” and celebrates the Japanese art of kawaii – the culture of cuteness and cute things.

The cafe doubles as a shop where visitors can buy exclusive merchandise.

Artbox already owns a shop in Covent Garden, London, but has decided to open its first cafe on the South Coast.

Creative director Rosanna Mackney said: “This is a concept that is popular in Japan, it’s ingrained in daily life.

“To be able to experience that concept in Brighton is something quite special.

“We had people come and visit us from Japan and Australia on our opening weekend.

“In Japan, kawaii is targeted at all ages, it’s not like over here where it’s seen as a more childish thing.

“We want to encourage the idea that anyone of any age can come and enjoy the cafe.”

Every three months the cafe will change its featured character and the name of the cafe will change according to which figure is on display.

The first cute cartoon to be featured is Pusheen the cat.

Pusheen was created in 2010 by Claire Belton and Andrew Duff for a comic on their website Everyday Cute.

The cartoon cat is now the subject of comics and sticker sets on social media site Facebook.

For the duration of Pusheen’s stay the cafe will be called Pusheen’s Snack Parlour.

Rob Fulton, the cafe’s kawaii manager, said he wants the cafe to have a positive impact on the community.

He said: “There aren’t any other stores or cafes like this.

“With the way things are at the moment in the UK, we like that these characters make people really happy. They have a very positive impact on people.

“People like kawaii because of the simplicity of the characters.

“They aren’t complicated, they have simple lives.

“I think it’s really nice to just see smiles a lot and Pusheen especially is always happy.

“We had lots of people asking us to open a store in Brighton and we love the city, it’s beautiful. All the feedback we’ve had is from people who are really excited about the cafe.

Artbox Cafe opened in the former Scoop And Crumb cafe.

Rob said the takeover was not about changing everything. All the old staff were kept on and the only thing that has changed is the decor and the food.

The cafe offers an extensive vegetarian menu, of which 50 per cent is vegan friendly.

Artbox is keen to use local suppliers. Its menu is mainly ice cream and waffles.

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'Fixing paperwork' gets Spice Merchant highest hygiene rating

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A CURRY shop owner is delighted to have the highest possible hygiene rating after “fixing paperwork”.

Spice Merchant in Montefiore Road, Hove, was told in May by hygiene inspectors that “major improvement” was needed at the restaurant.

Abdul Noor, manager of the Indian takeaway, said by sorting out his paperwork the hygiene rating was upgraded from “one” to “five”.

And he is now calling on the council to improve education to ensure business owners know what to do.

Mr Noor, who runs the business with his brother, said: “We have been in restaurants for a good 20 years so we’re thinking what we’re doing was the right thing.

“But this time, they said I needed these two books – everyone needs to have these two books – but why did no one inform me?

“Most of our customers are our friends, they come in and say, ‘one star, for what?’.

“It was all about paperwork.

“My question is – for people running a business for the first time, how are they supposed to know about all this stuff?

The takeaway, which is popular on online takeaway app Just Eat, was

originally visited on May 7 this year.

It was told it needed to improve hygienic food handling and the cleanliness and condition of facilities and building.

But, inspectors said, “major improvement” in the management of food safety was needed.

This included making sure systems or checks were in place to ensure that food sold or served is safe to eat, evidence that staff know about food safety and the food safety officer has confidence that standards will be maintained in future.

Mr Noor said the takeaway was marked down for not having “Safer Food, Better Business” books – an official log book showing food safety checks have been done and other information – despite having their own diaries.

He said: “I had a visit last year and I was given four stars, he said I needed the book.

“But throughout the year they never told me which book to have.

“Now, I’ve learnt the hard way and I’m sure from now on this place is always going to be five star.”

Following a quick inspection on July 5, the restaurant was given a “five” rating.

This is the highest

possible rating and means hygiene practices are “very good”.

Spice Merchant has been serving curry to Hove residents for three years.

When visited by The Argus, one customer remarked: “it’s the best curry in Brighton”.

A council spokeswoman said it expected people setting up businesses to visit the food hygiene website which has all the information on complying with standards.

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Infinity Foods Kitchen is set to close

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AN ETHICAL kitchen is to close, leaving its workers “disappointed”.

Infinity Foods Kitchen in Brighton’s North Laine will be serving its last gluten-free organic vegetarian dish on Sunday.

Despite being run by a workers’ co-op, staff say they did not have a vote on its closure.

And they have been left “disappointed” that the new team was not given enough time to “turn things around”.

One worker at the cafe, who asked not to be named, said: “Sadly, the business decision has been made.

“The amazing new team have given everything to turn it around – and have succeeded – but, sadly, the members of the shop would not carry it on.”

The kitchen is part of the Infinity Foods workers’ co-op.

The co-op also runs the Infinity Foods Shop and Bakery in North Road.

This will not be closing.

But the kitchen, in nearby Gardner Street, will open for the last time on Sunday.

This comes after a vote by members of the co-op.

However, workers in the kitchen say that because they are new members, they were not entitled to vote on the decision – or even attend the meeting last Thursday.

The kitchen worker added: “It’s very, very sad.

“It’s disappointing and feels like we’re in a grieving process as we have put so much in.

“In a workers’ co-op, you feel like you have a secured job but we’re keeping our heads held high and doing it the justice it deserves by showing people how amazing the food is.”

On the last day, cafe-goers will be treated to special discounts.

A spokesman for Infinity Foods said the decision was based on financial reasons.

He said: “Running a kitchen in Brighton and Hove is a very competitive market and when doing this as ethically as we can it can be difficult.

“Infinity foods shop have financially supported the running costs of the cafe, but that this is no longer sustainable.

“As a workers’ co-operative, it is important for us to pay staff well and with good sociable working hours.”

The workers’ co-op said all workers will be offered redundancy pay, as well as positions in the shop, which is round the corner.

The spokesman added: “Using organic ingredients meant we couldn’t always be competitive on price despite our efforts to make food at affordable prices and this made the costs of running the kitchen very high.

“We have offered redundancy pay to all the kitchen staff no matter how long they have worked at the kitchen and also offered positions in other departments of the co-operative.”

Infinity Foods celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2016.

It was thought of by local teenagers Peter Deadman and Ian Loeffler in the late 1960s.

And it started as a health food cafe at the University of Sussex called Biting Through.

After the pair inherited money from an aunt, they invested it into a shop in Church Street.

The operation grew and they had to move to its current location in 1974.

Visit www.infinityfoods.co.uk for more information on the business.

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Council to tackle signs

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A CRACKDOWN on unauthorised signs has been launched.

Brighton and Hove City Council has begun a campaign in Western Road and Church Road, Hove, to ensure traders do not change storefronts without permission.

Councillor Tracey Hill said: “There has been an increase in unauthorised signs and shop front alterations in recent years. Poor signage affects the way the whole street feels.”

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