CAFE MIAMI: HOW IT ALL STARTED
I moved in to The Strand Building almost 2 years ago now, after trying to get a flat there for over 2 years - when I first visited the building with a friend and fell in love with the art deco architecture and ‘Miami’ style courtyard full of palm trees and pastels. When I moved in to the building I was working in fashion, as a brand & marketing specialist. I was very tired and over stressed with it all, there was too much international travel for my liking and I felt like I couldn’t ever make simple plans or have any sort of consistency or routine to my home life as I was always away or working incredibly long hours. I loved parts of my job but struggled with others, I knew I wanted to make a big change to my life and career and ultimately that I wanted to be my own boss and only to travel for holidays!
Other than fashion, food, and particularly eating out, has always been my main passion so I knew that if I was going to leave the fashion industry it would probably be to move in to that. My mum is a food writer so cooking & eating has always been the focus of my family life. I also worked in a restaurant for 6 years when I was at school and through uni and always remembered it as the best job I’d ever had, so it’s something I always thought I would like to go back to at some stage, but I’m not sure I ever really thought I would actually go through with it, until it seemed to land in my lap …
After only a few months of living in the building I noticed a sign in the window of the Café downstairs (which was previously a charity run non profit café) saying that they were closed until further notice. I immediately called up the charity next door to ask them if they knew what was happening to the premises and they told me they were looking for someone to take over the business. I viewed the space later that day and submitted my proposal to the charity and council the following week. It all happened so quickly, without much prior planning at all. I still don’t really know how it happened and all came together, but I really believe in fate and love it when things in life seem to fall in to place when you need them to the most. It wasn’t until my proposal was accepted that I really started to plan how I wanted the café to be.
Luckily I had a massive head start as I’d renovated my flat in the building in art deco style only shortly before, and had done a lot of research on the architecture and furnishings of the period, so I had loads of reference points to work from.
I worked in fashion for a long time, so I guess it’s second nature to me now to really consider every single detail in the things I do, especially visually.
I definitely approached opening the Café as launching a brand and I wanted the art deco / Miami inspiration to be the focus of that, in every way. From the decor through to the food and everything else in between.
I always get really carried away with trying to source random objects in specific colours, I literally spent weeks online searching for specific shades of plastic cutlery, milk jugs and electric cable! I really believe in how different colours can change your mood and the way you feel and I love how much everyone appreciates the colour scheme and details within the space, from the light fittings to the sugar cubes!
WHAT INSPIRED THE MENU
When it came to establishing the menu I was important to me to continue the deco / Miami theme. So it includes modern and traditional american influences with a little mexican / spanish twist. it seemed natural for me to begin with my favourite home cooked meals that my mum and I always cooked at home - many of the recipes are are my mum’s, or variations of them - the sweetcorn waffles, for example, started as bite-sized sweetcorn fritters that sheused to make for me as an after school snack, when I left home I used to make them almost every weekend for my friends for brunch, they got bigger and bigger and eventually turned in to waffles….and then from them we created the waffle burger (which is filled with guacamole, chorizo, a fried egg & Cholula. My mum also makes the sweet chilli jam, which has become a firm favourite on the menu!
I have a real sweet tooth so I always play around with ways I can mix sweet and salty flavours together, like ricotta & honey on salted focaccia or pancakes with maple syrup & bacon.The menu has evolved quite a bit since we first opened though and we’ve now added vegan & gluten free options; like our banana & oat pancakes and sweet potato & black bean tacos.