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In Memoriam: Temple Lounge legendary crewdate spot closes

Popular crewdate destination Temple Lounge has shut down. The building, currently undergoing refurbishment, will soon become home to a new restaurant called Mint Lounge.

The old Temple Lounge premises at 21 Temple Street are currently shuttered and surrounded by detritus. Two paper signs stuck to the front door declare “New Mint Lounge Loading….” in big letters while the Mint Lounge website tells readers to “[s]tay tuned for Oxford’s largest premium shisha lounge”. The owner of Mint Lounge told Cherwell that it will be opening in three or four weeks time and also plans to host crewdates. They hope the new restaurant will be “much better” than Temple Lounge.

Naz Choudhury, who ran Temple Lounge, told the Oxford Mail in an article published on 24th January that Temple Lounge “has closed permanently”. He said the restaurant had been “successful for many years” and blamed the Oxfordshire County Council’s controversial low traffic neighborhoods (LTN) scheme for the closure: “The council’s decision to put these bollards up along Cowley Road was the main reason, people don’t want to travel here anymore. After Covid the council could not have done anything worse than what they have done to the Cowley Road area. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Temple Lounge opened in Oxford in 2010 and offered Arabic and Asian cuisine in “a unique ambient heated Shisha Garden”. The venue became a favourite for crewdates. Balliol College Boat Club’s Social Secretary told Cherwell: “Temple Lounge closing is a massive detriment to the culture of crewdates. It’s a staple spot known and loved by many, and the uncertainty surrounding its rebranding really places a dampener on future socials for the boat club.”

Alex Burson, a Sports Rep at St Edmund Hall, told Cherwell that his favourite memory at Temple Lounge was from the Hall’s football Christmas dinner, where “the food was exceptional” and staff were “very allowing of the slightly louder atmosphere that these events can create”. Burson said Temple Lounge “will be very much missed as it was one of a few staple options for crewdates and events like this”, and added that he hoped the new restaurant might provide a similar experience.

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