LONDON, UK – Health conscious Thameslink passengers can now grab a ‘guilt-free’ drink and snack on the go following the launch of a new vegan, eco-friendly coffee shop at Bellingham station, in the London Borough of Lewisham in south London. . Entrepreneur Rania Bakr opened her plant-based venture, Vital NRG (Natural Raw Goodness) on Thursday 23 May. She is selling hot drinks, superfood smoothies, soups, sandwiches and pastries.
Rania has been overwhelmed by positive feedback for the new shop, which is housed in a previously vacant unit. She said: “It’s been very exciting to open up. The local community have been very supportive. I have been chatting with customers and it’s interesting to hear everyone’s stories. A couple of people found us on Instagram and decided to meet up here.”
Rania, who has spent six years working in hospitality, is passionate about promoting veganism and believes she has found a gap in the market in Bellingham. She said: “I want to show people you can eat flavourful vegan food and still get all the nutrition you need. On this street we have been missing some healthy food; I’ve tried to get lunch here and as a vegan it’s difficult.”
Doing her bit for the planet, Rania has fitted out her shop with recycled materials, including reclaimed wood for her counter and shelves. Her takeaway cups, lids, bags and straws are compostable as well. Furthermore, she will be donating any leftover sandwiches or snacks at the end of each day to avoid food going to waste.
Bellingham station manager, Davide Serafino, congratulated Rania on the opening of her new business at the Thameslink station. He said: “I am absolutely delighted to have this fantastic addition for passengers and it is great that the shop is supporting the coffee producers in Africa.”
The new shop marks the beginning of a regeneration project at Bellingham station, which has been made possible by an investment of about £50,000 from Thameslink parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway.
Funding for the station rejuvenation has come from GTR’s fund for improving small stations. It is hoped two other empty retail units at Bellingham station will also soon be occupied.
Rania said: “There’s quite a lot of foot traffic with people going to work and being right next to the station is a great location, where people can pick up a coffee and sandwich as they pass through.”
Vital NRG is open Monday to Friday 6am-4pm and Saturday 8am-4pm.