This picture was taken in a coffee house about a year ago…
… and much has changed since then.
The UK has voted, wisely or not, for Brexit and a split from the EU.
Athletes and sports stars from certain countries have been barred from Olympic and other competition because drug tests revealed they had taken banned substances.
The United States voted in President Trump.
Not all change is bad news or of cause for concern.
Take the cafe in this picture, for instance.
I remember it when it first opened just over a year ago. The couple who run it, Alice and Steve, were front of house all the time. Helped out by family during busier times.
This is not your average cafe. In fact, it’s one of the best you will find in the UK. Possibly the best. I’ve certainly not found one better yet… and I have tried many, many cafes around the country.
It had some things going for it right from the start.
It is located in an area which has undergone a bit of a rejuvenation, a refresh. Renaissance would be too strong a word for it.
Anyway, the area is popular with residents and tourists alike. So, there is plenty of footfall passing by each day.
So the location is pretty good – even if it is a little way away from the main high street and town centre where almost all the other cafes can be found.
What made this cafe stand out?
A number of things.
Firstly, it draws attention from everyone who passes. It has a very simple curiosity factor…
(And something else – more of that in a moment).
This cafe is styled on the book cafes you might find on the European continent. The walls are lined with shelves crammed full of books, ancient and modern.
There is no other place like it in town (or indeed most other towns in the UK).
As you walk by, you cannot help but look at the cafe. Its facade is painted in bright, appealing colours. It’s giant, clear windows invite you to look in. The place has two tiers and on the upper side you can watch customers watching you from the most comfortable of leather sofas.
People wandering past look across and usually stop (or at least pause) to take in the sight.
And just inside, to the left of the entrance door you can see the counter with enticing cakes on display.
All these factors arouse curiosity and help to encourage people inside. That alone is not enough to create a successful cafe business.
So what magic happens inside?
Here’s my take on why this place – more coffee house than cafe – is so wonderful and has gained such a strong reputation and loyal following.
This is more a coffee house than a cafe. The coffee is high quality, tastes really good and is beautifully made.
The cakes and snacks are all made on the premises, fresh. The cakes are light, moist and delicious – every one a winner.
The staff are without exception welcoming, friendly and well-trained as baristas. They know what they are doing.
Everything is done consistently well.
The business is clearly doing very nicely.
So what changes have I noticed there?
Well, firstly, there will be many cafe owners a bit jealous of this.
The couple running it no longer work front of counter every open hour of the day. They can take time off – either to relax or work behind the scenes on managing and growing the business. Only at the busiest times have I seen them both working front of house.
They can do this because their staff are well trained and know what they are doing. They can look after customers all day long.
The cafe is routinely busier than it used to be. On some days it can be hard to find a spare seat. That’s what happens when you’re the best in town. Even in winter when there are fewer tourists or the hot summer when people like to head for the beach.
The owners no longer have to make all the cakes. They have a chef on site now to make these, the snacks and lunches for customers. Food is carefully made – with some gluten-free or suitable for vegetarians.
The coffee house also offers a good range of teas, soft drinks and alcohol.
It supports local community activities and even runs the occasional event at the cafe.
It has a loyal army of regulars.
Visitors have been known to make a detour on their travels – just to visit the cafe for its coffee and ambience. It’s that good.
There’s also now an extension of the coffee house business into the small unit next door. This houses a small shop selling home-branded coffee and luxury hand-made chocolates.
And the really clever bit is this…
They’ve subtlety changed how they serve the coffee.
In the past you had a choice of two cup size options – regular (which was quite small) and large.
Now there are three measures.
The old regular is now a ‘small’. The old large is now a ‘medium’. And the new bowl-sized offering is the large.
What’s so clever about that, you may ask?
It’s all in the pricing.
Customers used to pay £1.80 per the old regular cup. The new ‘small’ (same size) is a couple of quid.
The old large was £2.20. The new medium (the equivalent size) is now £2.30.
And the new large (which is a big cup… more like you see in some big brand cafes) is £2.60.
What that means is this.
For the most popular coffee sizes ordered by customers, the cafe makes an extra 10-20 pence PER CUP. Multiply that by the number of coffees it serves in a day and you can imagine how quickly that all adds up.
Adds up every day. Every week. Every month. Every quarter. Every year.
And that’s ALL pure profit (because nothing else has changed)… which the owners can hang onto or use to grow the business further. It will certainly help to give the new shop side a bit of a buffer while it finds its feet.
This is smart thinking…
The coffee house has established itself in town and the word keeps spreading. How many cafes do you know where customers go out of their way to make sure they have said thank you and made a compliment before leaving?
The place also displays unique pieces of arts and crafts at times. The one you see in the picture is no longer there.
Change always happens.
This coffee house simply knows how to make it happen in a very positive way.
And if you’ve been following me for long enough you will know what question I’m going to ask next…
… What can you learn from this cafe business and apply to your own?
Let me know if you do something inspired by what this coffee house has done.
P.S. This place is very special and I hope it always remains that way. If you haven’t worked out where it is just drop me a message and I’ll send you the location (on a purely selfish level, if I tell too many people it may get so full there will be a time when I cannot get a seat there).