I know you’ll find this hard to believe (especially coming from the creator of the turkey and avocado bagel) but I don’t always think of all the ideas for our little coffee shop all by myself. Sometimes I look on Pinterest. Sometimes I look on Instagram. Sometimes (always) I follow coffee shops from places far away under my personal account and take inspiration from their posts. Sometimes I visit new towns with a list of coffee shops to pop into to seek inspiration.
This next bit is hard to confess. Sometimes. Just sometimes, I’m an ideas thief.
Want to know the worst thing about that? I do it to local businesses. Yep, you heard it here first, I’m the worst kind.
To my coffee shop comrades. To my partners in crime. To my coffee colleagues. To the people I try to support. I just go in, I take a look around and I steal from them.
You want to know what’s even worse? I’m not even sorry. I mean I’m going to pretend I am for the purpose of this blog and so that you don’t all think I’m a totally horrible human but really, I’m not. They’re awesome, every single one of them and I could pickpocket more of their ideas if it was socially acceptable and less bloody obvious because they’re run by inspirational people, with inspirational ideas.
I guess it depends how you want to look at ‘competition’. For me competition is a relief. It’s a ‘thank god someone else thought this was a good idea’ moment & a ‘if other people can do, maybe I can do it too’ kinda feeling. Every time a new coffee shop opens in Bedford there’s always the group of people who are rooting for it and the group of people who think we are already over run with them already. Wouldn’t life be boring if we all thought the same thoughts?
In my opinion, humble as it maybe, I think we are SO lucky in Bedford to be surrounded by awesome places to drink coffee. The best thing about all of them is the coffee is such a small part of what it’s all about. All these places I’m about to mention are communities. They’re places we can go where we can feel safe, see a familiar face, have contact with someone, meet different people and when big high street stores are closing all around us, thank goodness for these little gems providing us with spaces to go and ideas for me to steal. Thanks you lovely lot. And sorry (not sorry).
So, here’s my confession list. In black and white.
When I first moved to Bedford and I didn’t know a soul, I worked here, and it made me fall in love with our town. It’s awesome and such a great little spot in Russell Park. It’s full of dog walkers, families, people on their way to work, fitness groups – just every kind of person you could imagine and that just makes it super special. Every Monday they hold a story time, come rain or shine. It brings in the crowds and it makes it feel like a real community seeing people on a regular basis. It creates a big family every Monday and guess what? I stole it. Well, not story time itself, but the idea of having a group which involved families regularly once a week. Sorry Kiosk.
If you go here regularly, they will know your name and make an effort to talk to you. I once sat in here for a couple of hours and the guys behind the counter greeted so many people by name, like they were family. They knew things about their customers, and it was clear that that’s not just because they felt they had to, but because they genuinely care. I’m lucky I got to see this before I opened because it made me realise how important this and not just that I do that but the whole team does. Because of sitting at your kiosk La Piazza, I always try to instil in the team how important this is and how much this means to me. Thank you La Piazza, and sorry.
There are so many sandwich fillings I could magpie from this gem on St Cuthbert’s Street. Thing is though, you’ve got to be clever when you’re a certified thief not to get caught and not to be too blatant. So instead, I stole one of your buffet ideas. I was making boards of sandwiches and they always looked like something was missing. Then one day, on my Facebook feed a picture of yours showed up with lovely rocket and tomato garnish laid in amongst them. Guess what we do now?
Sorry Roosters, I can stop doing it if you want. Or maybe put a credit to you on each sandwich board we do? Get in touch if you want to talk wording.
If you ever see ‘The American’ on my menu though, you’ll know Ive gone one step too far. Check it out, its bloomin’ awesome.
I mean, seriously people. You actually think you can put cucumber shreds in your water and not expect me to steal that idea?
You know what I used to do when we ran out of citrus goods? Plain water.
You know what I do now when we’re out of citrus goods don’t you? Its not even just the cucumber idea, it’s the way you thought to shred it. You took a cucumber and you treated it like a carrot. Absolute genius.
Mill Yard Coffee Lounge
This place does lots of lovely things, not least great salads. Its hard to think of new salad ideas all the time and if you are going to post about your butternut squash and feta salad with pumpkin seeds, red onions and toasted bread then what’s a girl to do?
I have to admit it was a slight irritant when I came in the following week to order this and yours was much better than what I’ve done. But thanks for the idea anyway and any other awesome salad ideas please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any pictures so I can really recreate it properly would be greatly appreciated.
You guys. You just can’t do that to me without me wanting to steal it. You cant just post a picture willy nilly on your social media of a biscuit based chocolate treat and add honeycomb to it and expect me to just pass it by. To just scroll on, pretend I havnt seen it. I mean, I tried. But it was inevitable. We created our own from it, its triangle shaped for a start and really doesn’t look as awesome as yours but that’s where the idea came from. I’m sorry Crumbs. Know that you do it better and that I will try not to look at your posts in the future.
Feel super bad about this one. Genuinely. When I first opened the coffee shop I felt like I needed some tables which were different levels – it all looked a bit samey. So the fabulous Nikkita Palmer agreed to make me some high tables. She asked me what legs I wanted with them. She gave me LOADS of options but as soon as she mentioned scaffold legs, I pictured The Pavilions one and I just pilfered their table design right there and then. I made them higher so they wouldn’t notice. Think I got away with that one.
When this place opened it made my heart skip. I love their colour scheme, the name of the place (Does Vanilla Tree at Riverside impinge on their copyright?), the fact they make everything on site but most importantly if you head up the steps and delve into their games area you will find that they have Downfall, the retro game we all know and love. You can get a modern version of it now. If you’ve tried it, you’ll know it doesn’t even touch the sides on the old game.
Did I order it off Ebay while I was sat in your coffee shop, drinking your lovely coffee last week? Yes, Yes I did. If there’s pieces missing when it arrives, I know it will be fully deserved.
I was in here around either the river festival or the proms in Bedford Park and I saw you were advertising for picnic baskets that people could pre order for the weekend. Absolute mastermind. I saw what you were doing and thought it was really clever. So basically, I stole it. I advertised it in the coffee shop, I posted pictures of what they would like, I spent ages designing a poster and then I sold one, one picnic package. One. That, my friends, is karma right there. I’m sorry Papillion, I’m just going to leave it to the pros next time around.
It’s a controversial one. But why wouldn’t I try to learn from people who know what their doing and roll out the same format in different locations across the country? I sat in here for HOURS before I opened Riverside. Learnt from their practices, took note of what coffee machines they were using, how they recorded the temperature on their fridges, how the ordering system worked, the lot. Did I steal most of the ideas they pay someone a lot of money to create? Do I continue to copy their winter and summer specials? Yes siree. Am I even a little bit sorry about this one? Not really.
As I sit here writing this, while really I should be arranging rotas and ordering some form of stock for tomorrow I’m looking around the latest coffee shop with bright, magpie eyes. The Gallery opened just a couple of days ago and its looking pretty swanky. Companions are on site, baking fresh bread, there’s some funky music playing and I get to spend money on more art work that I definitely don’t need but am absolutely getting at the same time, what’s not to like? They also have this lovely tin like tray that they use to display their water glasses. Look out for one in a coffee shop near you soon…