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Start-up Stories: Bestowed Kitchen see their pop-up cafe run extended by popular demand

POSTED: 24th April 2015
IN: Guides
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Fledgling catering business Bestowed Kitchen find success with their first ever pop-up café.

undefinedIn the last instalment of Aldermore’s Start-up Stories series, Bestowed Kitchen were working hard to put the finishing touches on the preparation for their first pop-up café. A month later, co-founder Jeremy Wood has big news to relate on the venture’s success, as well as the challenges the young business had to overcome along the way.

“We were quite taken aback about the level of response to it and to us, both on social media and in person when people were there. It validated what we were trying to achieve as a business,” he reports, though admitting, “It was an intense, crazy two weeks and definitely one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.”

Put to the test

In particular, the budding entrepreneur and his co-founding partner Sabrina were put to the test when unforeseen issues emerged at the pop-up venue in Walthamstow, North-East London.  

“There were various things that came up as well that were beyond our control, which made things more challenging,” he states, explaining, “For example on the second day we were open, the sink got blocked and flooded the floor and we had to close early in the afternoon, hours before our opening party with press and lots of other people invited. Luckily we got someone out to fix it and it all worked out well in the end.”

“Then on the first Saturday, which we were expecting to be busy, we couldn’t get in the shop because the shutters had broken,” he continues. “Those are the kind of things that do come up. Having to deal with those issues at the time was stressful, but really in the end it didn’t cause too many problems.”

Word spreads about Bestowed Kitchen

Having overcome these unfortunate events, Wood found the most challenging aspect of the 10-day run was keeping up with the café’s growing popularity. 

“It started off quiet and then word started to get out there and we’d be speaking to people asking where they heard about it and they’d say their friends told them about us. It’s such a massive thing, word of mouth. It’s a cliché to say it, but it’s so true,” he comments.

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Alongside attracting significant footfall, Wood is excited to report that Bestowed Kitchen’s efforts also earned a strong response from the local press and online community.

“We did get quite a few local bloggers writing about us as well. I’ve put links to that on our website,” he mentions. “Our cocktail night got into Time Out as well, into the actual magazine, which was very good, and it also got into a couple of London weekend mailing lists, which really did help to spread the word about that event.”

 

What’s next for the Start-up Stories stars?

In fact, word about the café spread so rapidly that Bestowed Kitchen have been invited to continue trading through the pop-up space for the next few months.

“Things went so well: we’d started to feel settled and people’s feedback about what the space looked like was really good as well, so we felt sad about having to pack all that up. Then the council mentioned to us that we could have it for longer if we wanted. Given my full-time job, it wasn’t possible to carry that on opening seven days a week as we did before and we came up with the compromise of just running it at weekends.”

Not resting on his laurels, Wood is keen to use this extended run as a chance to push the business further, though he understands that without the same time to prepare, promoting the upcoming weekend opening may be more difficult.

“It does give us an opportunity to try out a few more different things. We’re going to do another cocktail night as the last one went really well. We also might try opening it up as a bar doing light food as well in the evenings, because that’s something that people have asked us about.”

Looking beyond the pop-up, the experience has also caused him to question what the future has in store for Bestowed Kitchen.

“The positive feedback people give about the food and the approach we are taking is amazing. It’s such a confidence boost and really encouraging and inspiring, but I think in contrast to that, we’ve certainly learnt even more than we have in the past year how much hard work it is. It really is a massively physical job working in food and the hours were pretty intense. Especially for the opening party we probably didn’t get to bed until 2am and I had to get up at 5am or 6am the next day. Obviously on a full time basis, those kind of hours aren’t sustainable.”

“It’s very easy to get caught up in all the enthusiasm around it but I think we need to seriously think about whether we could do this for a longer period,” he concludes, adding, “I have a new appreciation for people who work in the food industry, more so than I did already!”

Having overcome these unfortunate events, Wood found the most challenging aspect of the 10-day run was keeping up with the café’s growing popularity. 

“It started off quiet and then word started to get out there and we’d be speaking to people asking where they heard about it and they’d say their friends told them about us. It’s such a massive thing, word of mouth. It’s a cliché to say it, but it’s so true,” he comments.

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