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!