Welcome back to part two of my little series on running my great neighbourhood cafe in Bath. I had intended to run this over two parts but I've realised there is much more to talk about than I first thought. So part three will come tomorrow when I hope to get some decent outside shots of the cafe and some interior shots as well. We may well run this over next week depending but I promise in between to upload more recipes for you to try. This morning I took these photographs of this fabulous square, it's my favourite place in Bath.
Situated just behind the Royal Cresent
I guess anyone can run their own cafe its not rocket science or so you may think. My first question to you would be can you cook? Have you ever used a proper coffee machine? What do you know about the health and hygiene legislation? Who are your accredited suppliers? These are just a few things that spring to mind the list could get a whole lot longer but I don't want to bore you rigid.
The hours are long and you can't run a business like mine without staff. I get into work at about 6.30am to make sure I have plenty of time to cook and fill the counter with delicious food. I was working right through until 4.00pm when we closed, I've restructured this so that I can leave at about 1.00pm. Having said that it's only this year I've been able to do this, previous years I've worked straight through. Staffing is crucial! You have to have reliable staff that both you and the customers like. Wages are high because nobody wants to work for the minimum wage these days and you have to trust them with your business when you're not there.
This is the opposite side of the square from the cafe
Suppliers are easy enough to find but you do have to build a relationship with them....and pay up on time! I had an account with a great supplier that I used when we were doing more of a retail trade for the deli side of the business....I hadn't used them for about two years but decided I wanted to resurrect the account and use their catering sized products for the kitchen. It was like pulling teeth getting the account back on board. I had to have at least half a dozen conversations and explanations of why I hadn't used them for a while before they would even consider taking me back even though my credit history would have been perfect!
Beautiful Georgian houses
I guess I should talk about the positive side of running a cafe. There is a huge positive side to running this business I wouldn't have lasted this long if I didn't really love what I do. It does all get too much at times but I'm terrible at pushing myself far too hard. I never backdown and give in, typical Scorpio, I expect the highest of standards even from myself. I think for me in particular as soon as I get bored of what I'm doing I have to change things and take the business onto the next level. It keeps me happy and the cafe moving in a forward direction. One of the real positives is being very close to this beautiful square with all its stunning Georgian houses, the residents and of course the lovely square gardens. The other positive has to be our customers, some travel quite away across town to get to us. We have a real hardcore of regulars who use us everyday sometimes they pop in more than once. What we have managed to create is a comfortable place to meet and enjoy our lovely coffee and fresh healthy food. We are very dog friendly, we welcome children although we have limited space so no highchairs...sorry! We cater for vegetarians, vegans and those on a gluten free diet. I'm always more than happy to talk through the food with you if you have special dietary requirements.
The Square Gardens
Our mix of takeaway and eat in can vary but generally they are about the same percentage. Coffee sales are high both in and out. Deli sales aren't that high but I aim to change that by stocking some of the products I talk about on here, ones that may not be available in your supermarket. Most of the deli products are Spanish and Greek at the moment. When you start cooking different cuisines some products aren't always readily available such as some of the Middle Eastern ingredients. We do a fabulous range of greetings cards and some locally made pottery which I will talk to you about tomorrow when I have some decent photographs.
Well at least you know where I am now. Tomorrow we'll take a look at the cafe itself and some of the produce I use. Have a great Sunday! X