Small yet sumptuously formed, Cherry Reds opened on York Road (off Kings Heath High Street) in December 2010.
Taking over from an old, old-skool greasy spoon, this pocket-sized café/bar brought in a well considered menu of homemade food (from Vegan to beef burger), garish cupcakes, outlandish beers & cider*, as well as a healthy, or unhealthy – depending on the time of day, cocktail menu with incentives.**
An overtly personal venue, adorning itself with soft furnishings, home from home décor and popular culture cuttings on the wall, Cherry Reds found the balance between creative endeavour and commercial nous – nurturing a loyal core of enthusiasts, whilst welcoming the stranger in with generous arms. A rare and reassuring approach. One that works so well, you sometimes have to sit on the benches outside.
From the board games to sports days, acoustic music to quiz nights, this Kings Heath (ad)venture introduced a now blossoming bohemia to the High Street side street. An injection of culture that arguably paved the way for other fledgling York Road venues, whilst underpinning the hubris of those more established.***
And so successful was this approach, Cherry Reds are at it again on the once beleaguered John Bright Street in Birmingham’s City Centre.
But Kings Heath is where the first Cherry popped, and remains a turning point in the chequered evolution of a once desperately formulaic High Street – nestling into a side road that (as certain quarters will not stop reminding us) saw ‘all the greats play here’ when the Ritz Ballroom was in literal full swing.
And whilst today’s fast food franchises play Jacobs Ladder with bus stop friendly outlets, and the Wetherspoon vultures seek out more self hatred and carrion, Cherry Reds continues to strive.
A quiet example of Birmingham getting it right.
Monday to Saturday: 9am – 11pm
Sunday: 10am – 11pm
*Cherry Reds has a licence until 2am, but must refuse further entry after the above operating times
**Happy Hour, from 4-7pm each day
Selected beers £2.50
Bottles of wine £8
16 York Road,
Tel: 0121 441 3155
Email / general: firstname.lastname@example.org
***Cherry Reds is available to hire each night – except Friday. For Saturday night hire please contact as early as possible, due to demand
For further information, on both Cherry Reds Kings Heath & John Bright St, visit http://www.cherryreds.com/
I used to live opposite where Cherry Reds (Kings Heath) now stands, frequenting the diseased lung that was York Road Café – the site’s A2 only predecessor. So when my cholesterol-challenging-lazy-breakfast closed its shutters for the last time, I felt a twinge of regret.
But like all good fires, colourful wings came to brush away the smouldering rubble and nostalgic detritus – replacing battery farming and unquestioned cheap meat, with a much healthier animal. Cherry Reds was born, marking the first truly grass roots changes to a High Street splinter.
Plus they make excellent cocktails, good burgers, and were kind to my mum. So we love them. And the name makes me think of teenage crushes, pigeon park and The Hummingbird.
Cherry Reds is a genuine home from home experience, with the only downside being a) it’s not actually my home, and b) it’s too small for all the people who ‘live’ there. Such is the burden of a good idea – people want in.
So grab your favourite seat, mark your territory, and defend it with a fortress of alcoholic ginger beer & White Russians. I can think of worse ways to pass an afternoon.