Q: Okay so you’re the manager of the café – do you know what the goals of the owners were when they opened the café, was it to maybe bring a little bit more culture to Newland Avenue due to the Turkish influence on the place?
A: I think for them at the start they wanted to be somewhere where it was comfortable for locals to come in, especially with the coffee aspect – that was the main priority when first opening the place; we wanted to be speciality coffee and have the best coffee on Newland Avenue. Then I think they realised that that necessarily wouldn’t be enough, so we got a really great chef and created a really great menu for brunch and tried to use as many local producers as we could at the start and it kind of went on from there. They tried to keep a little bit of Turkish heritage in a few of the meals, then expanded to other cultures such as with our Mexican eggs and Korean breakfasts to pay a homage to different countries as well as Turkey.
Q: I reckon that makes this place stand out a little bit too from other places.
A: Yes, other places don’t really do breakfasts either, and if they do it’s usually quite plain such as cakes and croissants. Here you can have a sit-down meal. A lot of people come in if they’re coming from work to lunch or meeting groups; we have mum groups and book clubs coming in as well – it’s just a nice atmosphere.
Q: Do people usually ask to hold their clubs here or do they just tend to come here anyway?
A: They just tend to come anyway. Sometimes people do ask to book or use the place for functions which we are maybe slowly going to start building on, but at the moment it’s just people coming in and we know they are coming because they come the same time every week.
Q: Do you have a specific dish on the menu that seems to be a favourite with people or is it quite a mix with what people order?
A: It is quite a mix. To be honest the Mexican eggs are one of our most popular, then you’ve got our big breakfast and Benedict’s too, but our Mexican eggs are definitely popular. It’s like sweet potato, avocado, black beans, eggs, chilli, and chorizo. In the past year we’ve tried to be more vegan friendly as well; we do a vegan breakfast, we try to make our soups vegan, and we’re starting to come up with a few more ideas to try make more things vegan so vegans don’t have just one or two options on the menu.
Q: Do you use free-range eggs, red-tractor meat, and sustainable fish?
Q: Are these usually sourced from local traders?
A: We used to use a butcher down this area, but we’ve recently started getting our meat from Turner Price. We get red lion stamped free range eggs from there too.
Q: Do you use seasonal produce for your menu dishes?
A: Our menu does change a bit throughout the year, probably around every six months. There are some items we keep throughout the year but because we have only been open a year and a half, we have had some things on the menu change quite a bit. I think we’re going to try do a set menu six months at a time so you get the autumn and winter vibe then a spring and summer menu with more salads. Over the next couple of months we’re going to bring more soups in and reduce the amount of salads.
Q: Do you have an interest in sustainability?
A: Not so much sustainability, I know our vegetables aren’t organic either. It is something that I would like to diverge into, but the owners are concerned with the costings of organic food and it is a little bit difficult.
Q: Do you do takeaway coffees?
Q: Do you offer compostable cups?
A: We sell our own bamboo travel mugs where we encourage people to buy those instead and a lot of people who come in do have their own mugs, which is quite nice to see. We have paper takeaway cups for those who don’t.
Q: Do you think food waste is a problem here, or is it the case that food tends to get used up anyway?
A: Food waste is quite a big problem. If things are going out of date we don’t tend to use them as much as we should. If there’s left over vegetables it would be nice to turn them into a soup special, but we’ve had quite a rotation of chefs at the moment who aren’t as open to doing this – so it is something we need to keep track of.
Q: It may be useful to look at what gets used most frequently and what gets wasted and try to plan your stock from there, I guess if you aren’t sure what the demand will be each day it could be difficult to estimate what will get used, and it is probably overwhelming to try and figure out how to use all the remaining food.
A: I think with us it is definitely seasonal. We realised at summer we shouldn’t prep as much soup as we were used to prepping at first because we’d end up throwing quite a bit away. A lot of it is meat that we end up throwing away as once it’s cooked we don’t want to reuse it after that. We try to order and be as consistent as we can so we aren’t throwing too much away, but you also want to be prepared for when it gets busy. I think where we struggle is if we realise we are running out or if we have to throw something away, we don’t think of ways to use up the stock there and then.
Q: Would the owners perhaps let the staff take any waste home?
A: We do a lot of this, especially with the meat if we aren’t going to reuse it the next day we give it to the staff. We just got some vegan burger buns that we were trying out and didn’t sell as much, so we gave them to a few of our staff members who are vegan to take them home. I take vegetables home from here sometimes too.
Q: Do you think a conversation around how you could tackle food waste better is a thing that could potentially happen or do you think it may be side-lined for now?
A: I think it would be side-lined for a bit longer with us. It is a conversation I would like to have, but we are planning to start opening in the evenings very soon and we have a new dinner menu happening so we are trying to work on that. We also just brought in cocktails last week, so there is a lot of progression happening at the moment which the owners would rather focus on. We also have a courtyard at the back that we want to redecorate and open for next year.
Q: Also, if you found out that any particular food item such as chicken was often wasted, you could perhaps add a small extra chicken dish onto the menu which may help reduce waste a little bit, but it also isn’t a huge change.
A: Yes, when doing our evening menu we tried to make sure the things that we generally waste in the day can be used up in the evening meal. I’m not sure if that is going to help as we’ll be buying more stock in for the evening, but it’s definitely going to see a change.
Q: What are your opening hours?
A: At the moment we’re 8am until 5pm Monday to Saturday with the kitchen closing at 4pm, and on a Sunday we’re open 9am-4.30pm. From the 21st of November we’re going to start opening until 11pm on a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday just to start out, and the kitchen will be open with our new dinner menu until 8.30pm.
Q: Are any other café’s open this late down Newland Avenue?
A: Not cafés. Every café other than Planet Coffee close at either 5pm or 4.30pm, and everywhere else that opens this late are generally a bar or a restaurant, whereas we want to try be a bit of everything. We still want to be very local and chilled, where people can come in and have nice conversations with a glass of wine and a nice meal.
Q: In the day time you have your sweet desserts on the counter, would this be open in the evening too?
A: No, we are going to move that on the evenings. We’re talking about introducing a dessert menu and whether to incorporate the cakes we have now or whether we’ll do something a little different on the evenings.
Q: Have you heard of Talking Tables? It originated from the council where public spaces can put up a sign saying ‘Talking Tables’ which indicates that anybody sat at that table would be open to chatting to somebody new. The café can choose what days and times the sign goes up and it’s to help encourage people to talk more. Would you be open to this idea?
A: I don’t think the owners would at the moment. With this place it tends to be people who come in already have their own groups, and those who come on their own want to be on their own as they’re reading a book, or are students with headphones in trying to do their essays. It does sound like a nice idea.
Q: Do you do any other dishes apart from the vegetarian breakfast that are vegetable based? They don’t have to be vegetarian dishes.
A: Yes, we use mushrooms and tomatoes in our standard breakfast as well as in the plant-based breakfast. With our plant-based breakfast we also have vegan sausages, avocado, and beans. We have a new dish we’re trying out this week which is garlic chilli mushrooms with tofu which is vegan friendly. We like to have a few options so vegans aren’t restricted with what they can have.