Tag Archives: business

The Road to Pulse Cafe – Part 3


This is the latest post in my occasional series covering the journey I am having in starting up my own vegetarian cafe business. Things have moved on a great deal since my last post in June, and excitingly I should be only 5 weeks away from opening!

Pretty much every day of the last 3 months has been taken up with planning, liaising, purchasing and deciding and it has also been a lesson for me in carrying things out in the right order (I’m pretty impetuous and try to do things in a rush!)

The main hurdle to overcome for me during this time were ensuring that the Change of Use application (from Office to Food Retail) went through successfully, which involved seemingly endless calls and resubmissions for plans elevations and forms. Coming from a construction and planning background I found this particularly frustrating, but after 10 nail-biting weeks I finally got approval.

During this period I indulged in some tentative retail therapy, buying what I would need piece by piece, and I definitely got the bargain-hunting bug! I picked up a 2m chilled display cabinet second hand for less than half price, an oven off Ebay and numerous chairs and tables from my local charity shops. This was great fun for both my wife and I and made us wonder why people buy all-new furniture in the first place!

Another enjoyable aspect of this stage was making design decisions on the logo, colour scheme and branding of the cafe. I was given the contact of Karl, a local artist and graphic designer who has been invaluable in providing the logo, t-shirt and bag designs, virtual mock-ups (see above)
for planning and all kinds of advice in an area that is completely new to me. I recommend him highly (www.sinfield.org)

At this point I also wrote the Specification for the proposed works that I wanted carried out (my previous life has been useful in one way!), including re-directing gas, water, drainage, electricity supply, etc, and currently have this out to tender with some local contractors.

Once planning approval had been attained, I had a number of meetings with my solicitor to agree and finalise the lease, which I did last week, so last Friday I finally got access and got the paint out!
My friend and future assistant chef Adam has also been doing a great job working with the internal colour scheme (lots of skirting board painting!), which is very much ongoing…

Just to increase the workload even more I am intending to have a food stall at the local Annual festival Lantern Parade (www.newmillsfestival.com), which will not only provide a bit of pre-emptive publicity, but will also be a great chance to get to know the local community before we open, so samosa and falafel making on an industrial scale will be happening soon too!

I hope that you have enjoyed this small insight into my trials and tribulations of starting up the cafe, and hopefully the next post will have photos of the finished article!



The Road to Pulse Cafe – Part 2

Following on from my last post highlighting my hopefully positive journey towards opening a vegetarian cafe in the North of England, I thought that you might be interested in this update.

A lot has happened since my last posting on April, and the exciting news is that after a great deal of searching, I have finally found a property and a location! Although it is still relatively early days and I am hesitant to get too enthusiastic until I have signed the Lease (hopefully a couple of weeks off), I have found somewhere that seems ideal. It is located in New Mills in Derbyshire and there seems to be a really good atmosphere about the town, with positive feedback via Twitter and Facebook about the possibility of opening up a veggie cafe there. The building itself was formerly used for office purposes, but has two floors which means that I will have the flexibility of additional seating and storage space, together with the potential for using rooms for community use, which opens up many exciting possibilities.

I won’t bore you with the logistics facing me at the moment, however in the last two weeks I have appointed a solicitor, accountant, and submitted a full planning change of use application (unfortunately moving from office to restaurant/cafe use is not considered permitted development, so an application is required). The joys of sorting out a business bank account are next (yawn!)

On a more exciting note, I have now moved my friend Adam up from South Wales so that he can help me get everything up and running, and he is currently in my old vacant house (which I need to sell quickly (yipe!)).

The most enjoyable things of the last month have been the purchases. I was given a tip about the Emmaus charity (Check them out – http://www.emmaus.co.uk), which does great work in providing opportunities for homeless people. So far I have bought 20 chairs, mostly for £3.00 each!

20130620-134722.jpgA small cross-section of my recent purchases in my cluttered garage!

The biggest expense so far has been my works vehicle. I needed to get a van that I could also do the school run in and managed to find this fantastic ex-Royal Mail van. My children have already donated a cuddly Postman Pat to stick on the dashboard!


I hope that this has provided a bit of an insight into the stages of setting up a new business – with a bit of luck my next posting will be covering colour schemes, internal layout designs and menu decisions – watch this space!


The Road to Pulse Cafe – Part 1

This is the first in an occasional series of blogs I wanted to do charting the (hopefully!) successful course towards setting up my own vegetarian cafe business. As you will have noticed I have already acquired the domain name of Pulse Cafe, but have not done a lot else.

As a bit of background, opening my own business relating to the cooking and selling a vegetarian food is something that I have wanted to do for a very long time. By career I have been a Chartered Building Surveyor for 20 years, however on the birth of my second child I decided to have a career break to look after her until she went to school. During the course of this I decided that actually a complete career change is actually something that I wanted and have been progressing towards this.

Me, by the aforementioned 3 year old (apologies for the quality!)

Now that Jasmine is going to be going to school in September I have decided to move things up a notch and start actively looking to turn to dream into reality. For the past four months I have been volunteering at the Topaz cafe in Ashton-under-Lyne which is a great vegetarian cafe run in affiliation with Mind, the mental health charity. This has provided me with loads of really good experience and also made me realise that even with a modest number of customers I will struggle to cope as a one-man operation!

In a moment of clarity I realised that if I was looking to seek help in any future business it would be best to do so with somebody that I already know and trust. As a result I contacted my friend Adam who I have known for over 30 years and is currently unemployed in South Wales and a also a committed vegetarian and weird music lover like myself. After a number of conversations it transpired that Adam was also very enthusiastic about the idea, and that it would make sense if he relocated to the Northwest, which is happening in June.

The only not-so-minor issue is that I will be bankrolling this venture by the sale of my previous house, that hasn’t occurred yet, however hopefully the housing market will pick up and things will move forward without having to go cap in hand to Mr Bank Manager!

I hope you have enjoyed this break from my usual postings of food, and I will hopefully be providing Part Two of this adventure soon. Any input and/or advice regarding the setting up of a new business would be very much gratefully received.

Speak to you soon.