Love is in the Oven

Kate Allison, co-founder of LOVEN (along with her husband), started her business as a fun passion project, making pizza for friends and family. After few years of developing the idea and lots of hard work, it has grown to a popular local pizzeria and recently they've opened a second location - the community cafe, LOVEN Bakery. Rachel Ho had a chat with Kate, about how Loven began and her thoughts about being in Tottenham.

Where did you grow up and what did your parents do? 

Near Croydon in Surrey. An architect and a school teacher/accountant/local-historian.

Photo supplied: Kate Allison, co founder of LOVEN

Describe your relationship to Tottenham. If I had not found Tottenham I would have left London a long time ago. It's the only place in London where I've felt comfortable, accepted and not judged. I love how diverse it is, everyone is different from one another, different ages, backgrounds, nationalities, jobs, etc. But they all seem to love Tottenham and are excited about being a part of it. As a woman, I think it is the first time I’ve almost forgotten I was female (coming from a very male orientated architecture background, this was quite difficult), there are so many women (and men of course), doing fantastic things here, it feels very natural to be part of it.

Photo supplied: LOVEN Pizzeria in South Tottenham

Tell us about LOVEN. What is it and how did it start? LOVEN is about communicating a passion for food, creativity and local community. The pizzeria offers high quality Neapolitan pizza and is also a space that promotes local artists and designers through exhibitions and commissions. The bakery is a mix of cafe style during the day and restaurant style at night. It is part of the community centre in Hale Village and attempts to reflect Tottenham’s ethos by being welcoming and inclusive. LOVEN started as a passion project, a way for me and my (now) husband to be together making what we love, with people we love, in a place we care about. We named it LOVEN in the beginning as a joke (I was a bit obsessed with puns at the time) a mix of LOVE, OVEN and L’OVEN and the name just stuck.

We started by borrowing a couple of hundred pounds and building an oven in the yard of an amazing warehouse where we were living by the river. The idea was to start a supper-club inviting friends and family to test the concept, but word got around and our lovely warehouse community, neighbours and locals started to come.

From that, we were able to invest in another oven at Styx for one year, before moving into our current premises, our pizzeria restaurant in Norman Road.

The bakery was a bit like our unplanned second baby; we were asked to do a proposal for the community cafe at the Engine Room and we were so inspired by what they were doing and by the lovely people around in Hale Village, that we wanted to be a part of it all. The bakery is something new for us and it is still finding its feet, but we are really happy at the response we’ve had from everyone!

Photo supplied: Kate serving customers at LOVEN

What advice would you give to women who want to open a restaurant? Start small and test out your concept. Get as much help and advice as possible ie: speak to everyone you can and remember you are not the only one, you are not alone. Most people are really happy to help and  are very supportive. The most difficult one, try to not let it take over your life! It will, but the best thing is to delegate as much as possible as you cannot do everything yourself!

As a woman, how do you think Tottenham has changed? What would you like to see change? There has always been a great community ethos in Tottenham, but I think it might not have always been very visible, hidden by a bad reputation. There are some amazing local organisations here that have worked really hard to support residents and local spaces and I think they are now becoming more visible as more people are getting involved. Change is inevitable for better or worse, the best thing we can do is try to be part of it, try to influence it in a positive way, so that Tottenham keeps its character, its diversity and supportive community spirit. 

Favourite thing to do in Tottenham? Wandering the streets and discovering new things. I remember the first time we went to visit the guys at the Brewheadz brewery, the old industrial estate they are on is in the middle of a residential area and tucked away next to the railway tracks, the units there are so unusual and beautiful, it was completely unexpected! 

Photo supplied: View from the bar at LOVEN

Find out more about LOVEN:

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