Setting Up a CafeMonday, July 29, 2013 Mary Anne Velasco
Last year, my husband and I decided to take the plunge and leave our life in London for a more relaxed lifestyle in Sussex. We were tired of the city grind, and we felt as though we wanted to do something a little more fulfilling. I’d always wanted to open a cafe, and my husband thought it would be an exciting venture, so we moved to Hastings, close to the home of the Battle of 1066, to open our very own cafe in the pretty seaside town.
We opted for this location because we thought we’d be able to snare the tourists looking for a pitstop after roaming around the coastal town. We couldn’t afford the rents in nearby Brighton, and thought we should walk before we can run. We found the perfect location on a little twisty street, and set about decorating and preparing for the big opening.
While we’re both very creative and imaginative, neither of us are especially organised, and we soon realised that we’d both struggle to keep on top of all the finances. We got in touch with a Hastings accountant and thankfully, he was able to offer us some excellent rates. We could have gone for a national company, but we thought that as we were newcomers to the business world we should go for someone local who understood the economy in the area and would know how to deal with a new business and what we needed.
We were considering selling wine and local Sussex ciders with meals, so we had to get ourselves some legal advice. We contacted a lawyer who specialised in licensing who informed us all about the processes for applying for an alcohol license, including who to contact at the council and which information we needed. Fortunately this was accepted and we got in touch with local breweries and vineyards to find ourselves a top quality set of suppliers.
The major thing to remember when you have a new business is that you need to promote a way to everyone you know. Friends, family, new neighbours, other businesses... get the word out there. Put a message in the local paper, drop leaflets into houses in the area and put up posters on community noticeboards, and make sure you’re registered on sites like TripAdvisor and Google Maps so that people can find you.
Make sure you have adverts in the places tourists will find them, and if you’re very nice to the people at the tourist attractions they might just recommend you to peckish guests!
… written by Claire Barton who has been operating her busy seaside cafe for six months now and is loving every day