Tasty treats at Lu-Ma Café

Thursday 30th May 2019

Event start: 18:00

Lu-Ma Café, Wimbledon

An award-winning café that prides itself on providing tasty treats with a difference was the venue for our latest AFC Wimbledon Business Club meeting – and members gave the delightful eatery a resounding thumbs up.

Located in Worple Road, Wimbledon, Lu-Ma Café is vying to win the ‘Best Restaurant in Merton’ for the third successive year after making a big impression on the local area since it opened back in 2015.

The aim of Lu-Ma – named after mother and daughter Maria and Lucy – is to serve up delicious foods with a twist! In a far cry from a quick lunch break at Greggs or your favourite sandwich shop, Lu-Ma sells food cooked without the use of red meat, dairy products, or refined sugar. The foods can be gluten-free, or with vegan and vegetarian options.

Receiving a warm welcome from Maria Jessiman, her husband Gordon, and daughter Lucy, business club members enjoyed drinks, before hearing all about how the café got started, and then tucking into a wonderful buffet! It was certainly worth the wait, particularly for the BBQ jackfruit in taco shells with avocado topping! That was a particular favourite for the author of this article and quite a few others, who also enjoyed falafels with dip, crudities with salsa dip, stuffed mushrooms, and classic humus canapes. Desserts included chocolate brownie bites, carrot cake squares, and banana bread chunks – all making light of the lack of dairy products!

Maggie Jones, a Director at London Tool Hire, said: “I thought it was very enjoyable. I tried jackfruit, which is something I’d never had before! I thought it was amazing and the Banana bread was adorable. The variety of food was a surprise to me and I think it’s so important for the future for people to have these options. It is much healthier.

“You meet people from different walks of life at the Business Club and it’s very enjoyable to be a part of it at a time when AFC Wimbledon are moving back into the area.”

After making a success of managing the adjacent Justin James Hotel with her husband, Maria decided to open up a restaurant that would spread the word about the benefits of healthy eating – and Lu-Ma has gone from strength to strength since.

“I decided to train holistically and macrobiotically with an emphasis on whole food and plant-based diets,” said Maria. “I did that for my own health reasons because in 2008 my consultant said I would need knee replacements due to arthritis. I’ve seen the health benefits for me since and we thought it would be really nice to create some kind of hub that people could come to and understand a bit more. A big thing for me was knowing what to replace animal proteins with and what to do differently. We decided to open Lu-Ma. We’ve brought in excellent team-workers, including our Executive Chef, who has been a Vegan and Vegetarian from a very young age. We want people to understand what we do. We make everything from scratch. We don’t buy anything in, including all of our Falafels and Burgers, so we know what we are putting into our foods.

“It’s been great to have people coming in that are going through illnesses and they are really nurturing and nourishing themselves with the food that we provide. It’s lovely to experience this.

“The reaction from business club members was very good and it’s been great to witness people enjoying themselves here, without a great deal of explanation. The food we use is gluten-free, without the use of dairy and meat, and people are enjoying them. People have been asking a lot of questions, including how family members have suffered with allergies and what types of food would be suitable for them. Some told us that this would be a perfect place for them to come with their families. We believe in this concept of healthy eating, it’s something we’ve got a passion for.

“We are a small business, away from the town centre, and we have to work hard to bring people in here because we are not in the high street. We like to think that what we provide is enough for people to walk that extra distance at lunch-time to come and eat with us! The long-term aim is that we can start to go out and serve our food in offices. Everything is gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free and meat free. It therefore ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people at a time when more people are being diagnosed with allergies and intolerances.”

You meet people from different walks of life at the Business Club and it’s very enjoyable to be a part of it at a time when AFC Wimbledon are moving back into the area.

Maggie Jones, Director at London Tool Hire

AFC Wimbledon’s Commercial Director Ivor Heller said: “I want to thank Maria, Lucy, and Gordon for hosting us. They are new members of the Business Club and this is a fantastic venue for us. I know you will all be amazed by this, but I can actually enjoy eating healthily now!

“Growing our network is what we are all about and holding an event at a wonderful setting like this is something special for us. The hotel here is also a place we are going to recommend to our supporters. Bringing Wimbledon back into Wimbledon is something that is very important for everyone connected to our football club and building up good links with local businesses will only help us when we move back home.”

Steve Dixon, Head of Marketing at Wimbledon Business Studio, added: “I really enjoyed it as I’ve been eating vegetarian foods more in the last few years. My girlfriend is vegetarian and we will definitely be back! Looking at the Friday night menu, it definitely appears to be worth a try!

“I don’t like all vegetables, a bit like most men, but there is a lot of variety at this café and the ethics behind it appeals to me. I know the café is not based in the town centre, but if we can help spread the word then they can be more successful.”

Judging by the reaction from business club members on our visit to Lu-Ma Café, it would be no surprise if it wins Merton’s Best Restaurant honour once again in September!

For more information about Lu-Ma, visit their website!

If you are interested in signing up to the AFC Wimbledon Business Club or for more information, contact Pietro Palladino at [email protected]