Breathing new life into a Community Cafe

August 14, 2012

Can Do Communities recently assisted Swaffham Community Centre with some fresh ideas to breathe new life into their Community Cafe by visiting the Succesful ‘Kitchen Community Cafe’ in Ramsgate.

Three members of the Swaffham Community Centre Team visited a well-known and forward thinking Community Cafe- the Kitchen on 13th of August 2012. This project was selected as it was seen as innovative and is project managed by a collaboration of charitable organisations with similar ethos to Swaffham.  The group from Swaffham had the objective of picking up some new ideas to breathe new life in to their Café and this visit it is hoped will give them the opportunity to see how another charitable group runs their Café part of the business.


When the group arrived they were given a talk by project worker Natalie who described how the project had been born and how it has evolved in the short time it has been open. The Kitchen is a relatively new, vibrant café which opened in Ramsgate in August 2011.  Inspired by the TV chef Jamie Oliver’s projects “Fifteen” and “Food Revolution”, Their aim was to create a café which serves delicious food and coffee in a fun and welcoming atmosphere, whilst creating training and employment opportunities for people to get their first steps into work.


They source food through local suppliers using local ingredients wherever possible and believe in serving tasty food and drinks at a reasonable price for everyone to enjoy.


They run a number of fun activities for the whole community to get involved with, including healthy eating classes, yoga, knitting and sewing groups, and an art and craft club for youngsters.  They also run coffee afternoons in association with Age Concern and live music sessions for up and coming musicians to showcase their talent.


You can sit with a coffee on the sofas and access the free Wi-Fi or make use of one of the computers that are available.  There is help at hand to get you started on the computer if you need it, with a whole programme of UK Online short courses for those wanting to learn how to email, Skype their friends and family, shop, or even pay their bills online!


Natalie did admit that their first year in business had presented them with a number of challenges and indeed it would not be profit making until the second financial year, this after making a number of tweaks driven by their customers including providing the right choice of foods at the right price and a tailored menu to what works locally.


Any further recommendations or next steps:


The Group from Swaffham enjoyed their visit and took away a number of recommendations to explore including:


  1. 1.    Improve Signage


  1. 2.    Be innovative with menu deals IE introduce Meal Deals


  1. 3.    Work up relationships with organisations like Age UK and offer activities at the Café


  1. 4.    Create an identifiable separate name for the Café


  1. 5.    Explore additional funding pots to deliver community activities in the Café area and drive up customer volume


  1. 6.    Develop a small Café focus group that meets every month to review performance and introduce new ideas


  1. 7.    Develop a stand-alone Marketing Strategy for  the Café



  1. 8.     Visit the following website for low price materials


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