The new cafe in the Edward Boyle library opened it’s doors to students for the first time this week, however it has attracted some controversy due to it’s name, The Book Club, which some are claiming undermines the branding of local venue Hyde Park Book Club.
The new cafe in Edward Boyle has been long awaited and provides high quality coffee roast, commissioned by craft roasters Dark Woods Coffee, as well as healthy snacks, breakfast foods, and pizza.
While many were pleased with the decision to avoid opening a chain establishment, such as the Cafe Nero stationed in the Laidlaw Library, the owners of Hyde Park Book Club feel the new eaterie is damaging their brand, something they’ve worked hard to build.
Hyde Park Book Club opened its doors just over a year ago and has since built up a strong following amongst both students and locals. They specialise in vegetarian food and host a wide variety of music and arts events, including gigs and film showings.
Jack Simpson, co-owner of Hyde Park Book Club, told The Gryphon: “The new name of the Uni café could cause confusion.
Lots of people from the Uni have told us they think the decision to use the name is potentially problematic, from students to lecturers, senior staff and even people involved with the process.
We were told before the cafe was opened that the situation was “regrettable”, now, if one can see in advance that an act is regrettable, it seems the right thing to do is to not do it.
“We understand that many people at the Uni are on our side, and hope that these people’s voices can be heard.”
However, a Leeds University spokesperson has said: “We have spoken to the owners of the Hyde Park Book Club and listened carefully to the points put forward. The new Library café is situated at the heart of the campus and as such it is aimed at students and staff using campus facilities. The two cafes are distinctive in in what they offer, not least in terms of their opening hours.
“We do not agree that customers will be confused and think there is a connection with the privately-run Hyde Park Book Club, based off campus in Hyde Park. ”
Mr Simpson continued: “We’ve heard talk of a boycott, and we understand why people might show their despondency in this way. Ultimately the Uni is a Goliath in the area, and having expressed our concern about what they’re doing, they’ve gone ahead anyway – what else can people do?”
The suggestion of a boycott of the new cafe was put forward by Joseph Moore, a musician in the city who started the impromptu campaign suggesting students should either avoid using the new establishment or contact Leeds University to suggest a name change.
He said that: “It is a shame to see such creative independent branding being so obviously imitated by such a large organisation.
“I can’t see how this intellectual property really benefits Leeds University, but I can see how it would harm the hardworking owners of Hyde Park Book Club.”
Oliver Walkden, an English student at the University of Leeds and co-founder of Brudenell Groove, a DJ collective which has used Hyde Park Book Club in the past, stated that: “The Hyde Park Book Club has been a blessing for creative students and locals. It has acted as a springboard for a lot of influential projects in Leeds, and acts daily as the place of positive intellectual dialogue.
“I think this role may be undermined by the careless naming of the university library cafe. It has set the two venues in competition, when, in fact, their relationship could be collaborative or, at least, respectful. As a student, I would be inclined to use both cafes for differing purposes, but the inconsiderate actions of the university have discouraged me from doing so.”
However, many students have also stated that while the names are similar, there are distinct differences in style and purpose between the two venues, and therefore they do not see them in direct competition.