Way back in October we embarked on a new venture, opening our own cafe, within the Kent Adult Education centre in Sevenoaks. Although we originally planned to just help other people open cafes, this has been a great opportunity to refine our model and diversify our experience.
In the student common room there is a refectory and the previous company renting it had ended their contract so Kent County Council decided to put the vacancy up for tender. We put forward a proposal and won. We started with a three month trial period, which was very successful, so we now have a permanent contract in the centre.
We employed Sammie to work in the cafe, and she was exactly what we needed. She does a fantastic job working there, managing all the stock and doing all the food preparation. Sales have been good since we started but Sammie comes up with great ideas of new products and promotions we can try to push the sales.
The cafe serves the students during their break times from classes, and as all of the classes tend to kick out around the same time it gets really busy between 10.30 and 11.30 and again 12.30 to 1.30 for lunch. Because of this we decided not to install an espresso coffee machine as it would really slow down service and the students would not get time to have a drink before going back to class. Instead we serve excellent quality freshly brewed filter coffee, teas and speciality teas.
When it comes to food offering we wanted it to be excellent quality and affordable. Sammie does a huge range of packaged sandwiches which she makes fresh in the morning. There’s also jacket potatoes, soup and sausage rolls. Until recently the cakes and biscuits have all come from the cash and carry which are really good, but a trial win home made cakes was a huge success. Unfortunately Sammie alone just doesn’t have time to make the cakes as well so we are exploring some options to find volunteers to help out.
Having volunteers working in our cafes is one of the main values of our business. The skills that can be gained from working in a cafe can be transferred into many different industries. Volunteers working with Sammie, could learn customer service, money handling, stock management and food preparation. We would love to give young people the opportunity to work alongside Sammie if they are interested in having their own business in the future. This would be the perfect segway into taking on one of our “Coffee Cart Packages” which they run and manage themselves.