Thursday, 13 August 2015

The changing face of Love Supreme

Chapter 28 of Ghost Flight begins:
"One thing about Manor Street: turn your back on it for five minutes and there's another little change. 
"Like this new coffee shop. It used to be a florists, and a Polish grocery before that, and a..."
The real-life Stoneybatter café I had in mind is called Love Supreme.

It had just opened at the time I was writing the book (the older florists was called "Edelweiss" and I think the Polish shop was the "Polski Sklep Warszawa" or "Warszava").

I won't go into Love Supreme's food and coffee - you can find plenty of rave reviews elsewhere about its hot chocolates and unusual teas, its pastries, cakes and bakes, its "limited edition" croissants (such as the one with a black coffee and gold leaf topping) and amazing sausage rolls and homemade pies (anyone for wild boar in port and juniper berries?).

No. I'll concentrate here on the look of the place, particularly out front.

The decor inside is minimalist, all white walls and exposed brick. The clean monochrome look extends from the black-and-white packaging of its food and coffee products to the main sign outside.

But to go back to that line in the book about how "you can turn your back on Manor Street for five minutes and there's another little change": the same holds true for Love Supreme's frontage.

See the pics on this page? I've not Photoshopped the text in them. No need to, because Love Supreme does a real-life makeover of its main sign every few months, forcing passers-by to do a double take.

One day it would announce itself as "SUPREME", the next day it might say "LOVE". One week it would be called "BAKERY", the next week it'd be "COFFEE".

The first time this happened, I thought maybe the owners had done a quick rethink about their branding, as you might do when your business is just starting up.

The second time it happened - then the third and fourth - it was as if the sign itself was ringing in the seasons. No accident or dithering here, but deliberate fun.

Yet for all the changes, the main sign still had the same recognisable face underneath it all, the same pure, simple, restrained yet elegant look.

Always the single word, in black capitals on a white background, in the same sans serif typeface, very symmetrial, possibly Futura or something similar.

In the run-up to the constitutional referendum last May (when Ireland extended civil marriage rights to same-sex couples), the sign changed to "YES".

A neighbour of mine said it was "all very John and Yoko", as in their War is Over poster and billboard campaign at the end of the Sixties. I thought it was a bit more Molly Bloom myself.

Last June the café celebrated it first birthday by changing the signage once again. It finally gives its full name, "LOVE SUPREME", in lite and bold fonts - and, in smaller type, "STONEYBATTER".

Maybe the sign, like the café, is announcing that it's here to stay.

Also often recurring is the dog's red bowl on the pavement to the right of the pic
PS: one of the two Centra stores further down Manor Street had a major makeover and extension the other month. It too has added "STONEYBATTER" to its signage. Stoneybatter is finally becoming a brand thing.

Love Supreme
57 Manor Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7
D07 XN26