Sunday, 6 July 2008

And now the hard work begins!

Lovely Catherine at Mollycupcakes has awarded me with this-hurray! Thankyou so much. It makes the weather outside seem slightly brighter somehow.

I am as usual, staggered and massively happy by your supportive responses to my new venture. Thankyou so much. If you're ever passing, come in, I'll get you a pinny sorted and hand you a cake slice. I think we may be busy.

It's all very well choosing paint colours, browsing through recipe books for the perfect cookie mixture and trying to decide which soup should become our first 'soup of the week' but really, I think we are going to have a heck of a shock the day we actually open the doors to 'real people' Eeek.

Still, we have a few weeks to go yet. The lady who currently owns it has kindly given us a set of keys to basically do whatever we like. Her solicitor would quite rightly go bonkers if he knew, but who am I to argue? She is pregnant and fed up at the moment, so has shut the cafe and is at home with her feet up. I have had to force a smile onto my face when she has started grumbling about how she hates being pregnant. I don't want to make her feel bad about it, but am finding it rather a struggle to sympathise. Instead I shall have to concentrate on chocolate brownies, I think, to take my mind off it.

So I have been playing with very scary looking coffee machines, grinding my own beans and opening random boxes in the kitchen which have housed all manner of weird and wonderful things. Pre cooked hard boiled and shelled eggs, anyone?! Cans of sliced mushrooms? (bleurgh) frozen slices of pre-cooked chicken? I don't think I am on my own with thinking that they will all be filling a very large dustbin soon.

Tomorrows job is to start emptying out and cleaning the kitchen whilst the boys start decorating. I think the kitchen was put in by an incredibly tall person. I practically have to stand on tip toe to reach the sink. A trip to ikea for a set of their wooden steps is in order if I ever want to reach the top shelf. Or perhaps a pair of platform shoes...

Now, despite thanking you all already for your words of encouragement and glee, I have a favour to ask. But a fun one, hopefully. I would like suggestions for menus. Including boring things like your favourite sandwich fillings. I need your likes and dislikes about cafes you go to, in order to help us get it right! If you have any ideas at all, about anything that may be of help we would be grateful.

I am planning on being incredibly child friendly, so little people will be catered for (0nly well behaved ones though, otherwise they have to do the washing up) and I am hoping in time to encourage book clubs/ crafty clubs in for the evenings. I have a lady on standby who creates beautiful mosaics, pictures, mirrors etc. that we will hang on the walls and have for sale. Lots and lots of ideas floating around on that score. But any more will be gratefully received!

Thankyou again, you're all wonderful. I hope you pop in if you're ever in Gloucestershire!



periwinkle said...

hmmm, make sure you have high chairs where the straps fasten as we nearly had a nasty accident the other week.Sometimes I think basic things are the best, like plain ham sandwiches for kiddies. But for adults if you served Wensleydale with Cranberries I'd be there every day. Where exactly is your cafe going to be?
lisa x

periwinkle said...

I forgot to mention pages of colouring books and pencils are always a hit with my 3 yr old
lisa x

Summer by the sea said...

Hi there - Firstly GOOD LUCK with the cafe and good for you! I agree with Periwinkle that sometimes menu's can be a little too fancy for children, classic sandwich choices for little ones is good, and maybe a 'meal deal' idea would be good, where you can pick 3 or 4 items, such as little plastic pot of grapes, mini portions of cheese, cucumber sticks etc? - For adults, I had a Crayfish Salad sandwich today for lunch and it was lovely (I live on the Coast though, I'm not sure how easy it is to get hold of inland?)
Keep us up to date with how it all goes
Natalie x
P.S - I also love the idea of it being a showcase for local crafts
P.P.S - Cupcakes! with smaller versions for children

Dragonfly said...

I'm rather partial to a mozzerella panini! Brownies are also a favourite...
It all sounds very hectic in an exciting kind of way and I will definitely be popping by sometime.

julia said...

Please let me know where you are once you're open, shouldn't be too far from me and I'll need something to look forward to in September when Kit starts school.
As for suggestions, I love mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, preferably warmed through. My friend made the most delicious wrap which she warmed in a dry pan and then filled with feta, houmous and peppers - yum!
I agree with Periwinkle - plain sarnies for the littlies eg. ham, cheese, marmite. Little pots of veg sticks would go down a treat with my two. Books, crayons and
colouring pages keep them amused.
Oh, I thought of another sarnie - bacon, avocado and rocket - it's making me hungry thinking of all those fillings!
Good luck, it's so exciting!
Julia xx

Kitty said...

My cousin's dream is to open a cafe with a craft element - sounds like you and she have a lot of ideas in common. It sounds really wonderful - I wish you a lot of luck with it.

You could always give nasty children some cabbage - that'd sort them out :-D x

Janette said...

is your cafe anywhere near offices where staff might come at lunchtimes? if so there is nothing worse than being faced with the usual, ham, cheese or chicken salad on a white barm cake and no other choices, on the other hand offer different types of bread and some more unusual fresh toppings ie smoked salmon and cream cheese, marmite and cheese, crispy bacon and coleslaw, etc and you will get a take away service going on in no time especially if you tried something like a daily special filling. Cake wise, a selection of pretty cup cakes, or iced fingers are great and don't forget your own fab gingerbread. Oh so many choices for you to make - how brilliant.

Vanessa said...

A bit of pick n mix lunch for the kids. They get to choose a sandwich, drink, crisp, cut up fruit, yoghurt, mini sausages.
Let them choose what they want as they are more likely to eat it!

A mini salad bar, a love plain sandwiches with different bread options. Maybe have a sandwich special each day/week which are a bit more exotic.

I think wraps/paninis are also a winner.

Selling bits & bobs crafty is also a winner.

What about having a little notice board with all things local that happens. I also think the loos have to be interesting so this might be a great place to have the notice board.

What about having a chalk board wall and kiddies corner with some Ikea furniture for when you have family groups in.

Sorry I have reallyy gone on but when i started I just could not stop.

PS Just thought you must have coleslaw & crisps to accompany the sandwiches. I think salads are often wasted as they are sometimes a bit yack, unusual salad leaves are not my dig!

driftwood said...

jacket potatoes cooked in the oven not the microwave, with vats of chilli to go in them for the depths of winter - or even a very wet summer.
salads with feta cheese and olives, sandwiches for children with the crusts cut off - they don't eat them anyway, and if you cut them off you can use the bits to make bread and butter pudding with custard.
paper and pencils for the littlies, doesn't have to be colouring books, in fact when they get a bit older lots of children prefer to draw their own pictures, and some books to look at.
and chocolate cake!

when do we get to see some photos - before and after please. xxx

mollycupcakes said...

Hello lovely friend.
Your very welcome, you truely deserve the award.
Sounds like you haven't got a moment to think, so much buzzing around in your head. Sounds fabulous, I'd love to live nearer and help you out. I'm a dab hand with a paint brush and heavy lifting lol
But I'll help from here as much as I can. And will remember to pack my pinny from Rosablue when I come and visit in a month or so.
I have just popped a card in the post hope it comes today. As for ideas, well I will pop my Nanna's lemon drizzle cake recipe in the post asap. I'd love to share that one with you, she would of been so proud if you had a go. It can also be made into cupcakes, you just put it in cases instead of a cake tin. Very yummy they don't last 5 mins in this house when I make them. And the girls or Ben always lick the bowl and spoon of the mixture lol
On other ideas for child freindly, maybe have small tables and chairs in one part of the cafe with chalk board table tops for scribbles and easy cleaning when finshed with. Ikea have a great set of table and chairs, we have one that was Jade's and she has now given it to little ones and I painted the top with chalk paint. It doesn't have to be black, they do it in lots of other colours.
Cor don't I go on hehe! drop me a line if you want to chat honey and when you have the time. 01634 811335
Favourite sandwich for me is prawn mayo. I could eat it until it came out of my ears lol yuk! my little ones like cheese. Also sliced banana and strawberry jam sandwiches.
Hope I've helped, my word I just couldn't stop once I'd started and still have loads of other ideas, wow now my heads spinning lol
Many hugs and good luck sweetie.
See you soon.
Catherine x x x

what happened ?how did i get HERE? said...

Just stumbled upon your blog...loved it! Makes me feel quite envious! Fave sandwich fillings are avacado, rocket and blue cheese in a warm panini...not everyones cup of tea...
antother fav was hot, crispy fishfingers in nutty, granary bread with red peppers and rocket (I was pregnant at the time tho..)How about a tasting menu for the kids- mini bits of stuff for them to try at a set time each week - encourage mums with fussy eaters perhaps - your cafe's USP...! GOOD luck! x

Rachel said...

Real, proper milkshakes with loads of froth on the top in tall, pretty glasses. And of course, cupcakes!

April said...

I am so happy for you that this is going so well. My favourite sandwich is a crusty roll with coronation chicken. C likes simple sandwiches like ham or tuna, with cucumber at the side - not on the sandwich. Kids love finger food they can pick up.

Please have lots of frothy hot chocolate too!!!

Anna, if you would please drop me an email (address is on my blog) I have a question for you...

April xx

Ragged Roses said...

So glad you're ditching the kitchen contents, urrrgh!!! Colouring books are great for children. I often think that presentation makes such a difference and beautiful surroundings and I'm sure you're going to come up trumps with both. Good luck Anna and keep thinking of those chocolate brownies

JuliaB said...

Try here:

It is the flickr page of where I work (all photos taken by MOI).

In the "advertising" set, you will see pics of the cafe including menu

And in the "kids kitchen" set you will see the kids play area which is in the cafe and ridiculously popular with the kiddies. The parents always have a struggle getting them out but it means that they practically race back because they can have a quiet cup of something and a chat while the child (both boys and girls love it) plays happily with the other kids there in the corner. Its been a terrific hit.


Country Cottage Chic said...

Ooh - "proper" homemade scones served warm with jam & clotted cream & a really good carrot cake.

One of my favourite coffee shop sandwiches in South Africa is a toasted chicken & mayonnaise - nobody here seems to do it, but it is really delicious.

Sandwiches should be made with really nice bread plus local bacon & free range eggs for breakfast, leek & potato soup for lunch.....I'm sure I could go on for hours!
I will have to make a pilgrimage once you are open...with my CK pinny!

Vintage Amethyst said...

Yoo hoo hunny bun!
Well with me being vegetarian my advice would be have some veggie options! It is amazing the amount of places that only have cheese sandwiches as an option for vegetarians to eat, I am stick to death of cheese sandwiches! Tee hee! Oh and don't even get me started on cheese savoury sandwiches!!! I would love something like roasted vegetables, cherry toms cucumber & feta, avocado etc.
Oohhh and of course lovely scones & cakes!!! Mmmmmmmmmm!
Hope all the decorating is going well and all the furnishings, oooohh how exciting I am so jealous.
Lots of love
Alison x

me said...

Hi Anna,

I agree with the 'simple sandwich' for kids with healthy options. Fish finger sandwiches are a firm favourite! Pitta bread, houmus or other dippy stuff with carrot/cucumber sticks.
Paper, colouring pages with pots of pencils/crayons are always a hit even for my 8 year olds! But keep the pencils topped up and sharpened as I hate it when they are given a pot of stubs!!
Maybe have a notice board for people to pin the latest yoga etc classes on and one for all the lovely artwork those little ones have done!
Print out something you have put together yourself that has something to do with your cafe? Like design a cake topping or something - prizes can be given. One place I know has a monkey for a logo and the kids are kept busy by designing the t.shirt it is wearing with a prize after each week.
Handysitt chairs for little ones are fantastic as they fit onto all chairs (apart from ultra modern curvy numbers!) They fold flat too. Highchairs can be bulky and take up a bit of room but try to get stacking ones. I think Ikea used to do a cheap basic one.
Maybe give out loyalty cards - after 6 coffees you get a free one?

I love bread! So different breads! I too love chicken and mayo!
Maybe some healthy bean salads - especially broad beans when they are in season? hmmm with bacon....
What about letting those little ones loose on decorating their own fairycake? bit messy for them and err yes you!!

Advertise to see if there are artists looking for space to sell their work. Sale or return only, otherwise you may get lumbered with it!! make sure you have a commission of the sale price - agree this with the artist. Maybe they can hold opening nights? Also ask them to supply the wrapping! Or agree a collection time for the buyer to come back and stick a red dot on the piece - very gallery like! Good publicity for you too.
I'm rambling - how many words am i allowed on here?!!
email me anytime!
Have fun

Miss sew n sew said...

Oh this is so exciting this will be a great new venture to get your teeth into! I'd love my own little cafe like the sounds of the crafty bit too!
Agree with the plain fillings for sandwiches for the kids but how about making them into shapes like stars with cutters they go down very well with my little ones. Also I like fruit shoots for drinks and think Natalies idea for mini cupcakes is lovely. Or you could also do mini muffins or mini cookies!
Look forward to hearing how your getting on!

Curlew Country said...

Ooh Anna this is so exciting! I like a squashy sofa in a cafe (or a couple so I don't have to throw baleful stares at the people who are getting to sit in it instead of me!)But not leather (sticky in summer) and not too pale incase I wobble my capuccino!

Foodwise - I usually settle on a panini and a brownie is a must.

Periwinkle is spot-on with recommendations for children. Plainer the better but helathy too, lots of little ones don't actually like sandwiches but will devour fillings seperately if you can be a bit flexible (grated cheese, a few crisps/breadsticks, cherry toms, raisins, smoothies etc). Oh and straws are always a bonus, they'll drink anything out of them!

What a smashing idea to open in the evenings and support local artists, brilliant! My last idea is a bit of music - but nice and relaxing, I really enjoy a bit of French cafe music in the background but not tinny pop music (not up your street anyhow I'm guessing.)

Hope that helps! Very best of luck, you'll be a great hit! Are you in Cheltenham? I used to go visit Glos. a lot when I was at uni and loved it there.

OhSoVintage said...

Thankyou for visiting my blog. I have been reading lots of your posts and assume you must now be a billionaire as you mention you would open a cafe if you became one!!! How very exciting! I can't think of anything different to the suggestions from other bloggers but add that I always love paninis. I will visit you again as I've so enjoyed the last half hour on your blog!

cd&m said...

Just popped by to let you know that I've moved the blog to blogger, you can now find me, and eventaully more pics of Wisbech, over at

Anyway enough of me, this is such marvellous, exciting news, wishing you lots of luck.

JuicyFig said...

HOw wonderful! lucky you taking the plunge!
I am terrible at suggestions, my daughter always gets an egg mayonaise sandwich where ever we go - then always complains they are covered in cress - so cressless butty's for kids! and I always think the most important thing to get right is GOOD well made coffee!

good luck - will be checking in on you!


Cowboys & Custard said...

Just you try and stop me Anna..!
I have a feeling in my old bones that you are going to be a huge success...
I am v excited for you and can't wait to see you wielding that cake slice...
Good luck with it all..

Sorry that the recipes are late... in the post!
Well will be v soon..


alice c said...

I love cafes that sell cakes made to local recipes - possibly using local ingredients. It makes it a special experience to visit and enjoy food that can't be found elsewhere.

shabby chic said...

How exciting , I have just caught up on all your news, i am excited for you. Cant wait to see all pics and hear about everything. How cool , glad you are ok and making plans x

Ciao said...

Philly and seedless black grapes in a warm wholemeal bun, yummy, good luck in your venture, xx