A couple of weeks ago we read a piece on Kent Online about Peter, the owner of The Sea Cafe in Walmer. He had been handed a note from a customer explaining that some people had given the cafe a racist nickname and this had been circulating. Recently the outdoor garden area had been vandalised, with tables turned and plant pots smashed in what seemed to be a response to his feature in the press.
This week we went along to the cafe and found out about Peter's charming cafe. It's crammed full of art, paintings and murals cover the walls. When was the last time you went to a cafe with a working porthole? Peter showed how he personally installed in the back wall. He was chatting with a customer about how he’d like one, and the guy came back and gave him the porthole that's in the back wall today. The whole cafe is filled with interesting stories like this from the 12 years Peter has been here.
We tried some of the all day breakfasts on the menu. We got the full English (bacon, sausage, tomatoes, toast, an egg and a mug of coffee) as well as a bacon sandwich and juice all for less than £10. It was quality food, especially for the price. The bread was lovely and thick, it toasted nicely and was covered in a healthy portion of butter. It's exactly what you want from a cooked breakfast, there's no fussiness and they nail simple food at a great price.
Peter started a Oneness campaign in response to the ignorance facing him. It aims to celebrate our differences, and to highlight the fact that we’re all one people, regardless of colour or creed. The project takes shape in a collection of painted pebbles. These can be seen in around the cafe and even outside. Each one a reflection of himself at one point in time and a form of self expression.
We'd recommend coming for adults and children alike. If you have kids they can even help themselves to art supplies and start crafting a masterpiece. There's adventure to be found everywhere, from the whimsical porthole to seeing their work go up on the wall. These small details really tie together a feeling of community.
When we were at the cafe we overheard people talking to Peter and others working there about the vandalism and name calling, it seems as if people have been rallying round to support the cafe. The response on social media has been one of shock and anger, but Peter’s response in the form of his campaign for oneness is graceful and defiant.
Peter showed us a mockup of a new frontage for the exterior of the building. One that will feature religious symbols and a message of coexisting peacefully. The Sea Cafe is crammed with originality, with a hippie idealism and above all a will to bring about understanding and acceptance. These are bold ambitions for a cafe by the sea, but ones that are welcome.
Illistration by: @charjarart