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The Vocal Local: A requiem for Upside Down and the first sight of Last Light

Upside Down has raised the bar for the food and drink scene in Blackpool. Tim Christian describes how it introduced him to so much more than brews and looks forward to its evolution as Last Light

The 28th January was the end of an era for the food scene in Blackpool as the artist formerly known as Upside Down closed it doors for the last time under that name. Before Christmas the three-strong team at Upside Down announced their intentions to re-open under a new name and with a new direction.

Chef Rob and plant-wrangler (and “Boss”) Resh will be moving on to pastures new, whilst the brews and bakes aficionado Ryan will stay on to continue their legacy under a new name (revealed recently as Last Light Coffee). It feels as though the event should be marked, because of the impact Upside Down has had for the food and drink scene in Blackpool.

It hardly needs saying that Blackpool is hardly a world-renowned culinary destination. For most people, if they think of Blackpool in food terms at all, they will think of maybe fish and chips, doughnuts, and the ubiquitous sticks of rock and no more. Drinks will be binged – Blackpool remains a place for people to come and get legless in a consequence-lite setting and leave without having to worry about whatever mess they leave behind.

But Upside Down has been at the vanguard of changing all that. They aimed to be the beginning of a Blackpool coffee culture and to offer a “small but punchy” menu of vegetarian and plant-based food, the likes of which Blackpool was not familiar with and it had never been associated with. They succeeded.

Riding a wave of increased cultural engagement from a blossoming local creative scene, Upside Down has been a nexus for a variety of interlinking communities looking for good food, brews (coffee, tea AND Iron) and a place to relax and enjoy them. The standards have been raised considerably and, I think, have helped to push up the quality of other food options in the local area.

Since visiting, enjoying, and writing about Upside Down way back when, I’ve been down a bit of a path that has led me into that much wider social and creative scene.

Upside Down will bow out in the midst of a significantly energised culinary space with the opening of the nearby Abingdon Street Market and a selection of local establishments that have (consciously or not) risen to meet the challenge while acknowledging the considerable contribution that Upside Down has made to the area.

For me personally, this place will always hold a special place in my heart. Since visiting, enjoying, and writing about Upside Down way back when, I’ve been down a bit of a path that has led me into that much wider social and creative scene. I sit here today having just come from an analogue film printing workshop at another local community and creative hub, Aunty Social, seeing people I recognise inside in a town that is now my go-to for a quality dining experience. Upside Down has been something of a happy place for me to come at weekends and eat and write and read and socialise in the dappled light and chilled atmosphere, and I am forever grateful for that.

As for what’s next, I’m looking forward to checking out Last Light when it manifests. While I’ve never been a big coffee drinker, Upside Down has broadened my horizons for tea, chocolate drinks and even sodas and I’m expecting more of the same going forward. It would be a disservice to overlook the quality of the bakes, cakes and other sweet treats I’ve been enjoying over the years too (please, Ryan, keep the kladdkaka coming, oh my GOD). The future looks bright and I can’t wait to keep supporting it.

It is my hope that this local foodie scene will continue to thrive and that Last Light Coffee takes up the baton and sits quietly nestled at the core of it all, raising the bar and helping to put Blackpool on the gastronomic map.

Rob, Resh and Ryan, thank you so much, and good luck to you all.

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    A hungry guy in search of tasty treats across the Fylde Coast. Additional spicy opinions are also available.

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