Following a 20+yr career (and life!) as a Pub + Restaurant Manager and Chef, Michelle made the decision to leave the industry and took up a new challenge, learning about cheese, at The Cheesebox in Whitstable’s, Harbour Street, managing the shop for Dawn for 4 years, then, the little shop next door became unexpectedly available… Michelle made the (quite rash) decision that this could be an ideal space for a tiny, quality, café with extras. Having a love for food, cooking and hospitality, it would be an opportunity to cook fabulous things that are a little bit different and not available elsewhere, serving consistently tasty food, in a friendly, cosy environment.
Logistics came next…
Firstly… to track down her novelist, bike hiring mogul landlord on his travels in Guatemala and enquire if he would consider the idea?
He said yes, amazingly!
Secondly… how to fit a café in the space and how to fit in a kitchen?
Thankfully Michelle’s partner Andy is a man that can (even after having the whole plan literally thrust upon him and selling his car, the coffee machine is referred to as the BMW!) ‘Nuff said, Café, fit in space! Small and very, very often rearranged out front and Kitchen, a one cook, one washer up, room out the back… no gas… no cooker… 2 toasters, 2 sandwich toasters (1 of each gluten free!), 2 induction rings, an oven and a microwave…
Thirdly… what style, what food, what drinks, what service?
In the initial, we were a little green café… linked with The Cheesebox in colour to represent our lovely relationship and having a grand plan of what was wanted, great quality ingredients found as locally as possible and, of course using the finest of British cheeses from next door!
A great breakfast + brunch, poached eggs (the town was lacking in poached eggs, once!) Seasonal lunches, including a cracking Sunday Roast, tasty soups, salads, savouries, pies and cakes, including baked cheesecakes, patisserie and, in the evenings Pop Up Kitchens featuring world cuisine from authentic recipes and for private parties for any occasion, with all made in house or by Michelle’s catering company ‘The Beach Kitchen’ (see page) Sounds simple!?
Way easier said than done! It has been emotional, an evolutionary experience for all concerned, to say the very least! But… it feels like, now, 3yrs later it has found its identity. The café has an ever-morphing seasonal menu and still has an ever-changing layout! (to suit the occasion!) But, most of all, it has a warm friendly team of co workers who work so fabulously, and hard, to provide high standards of service and housekeeping in a spacially challenging and very manual Cafe.
During the Autumn, Winter and some of Spring there are light breakfasts, big warm brunches, hearty soups, seasonal salads, toasted sourdough sandwiches, savouries, pies, specials and our, now, very popular Sunday Roast, for which we get the kindest reviews! Thanks folks! (see sample menus)
The Summer months bring delicious tarts, quiches, savouries, meat + fish specials, breads, and a new deli salad selection, all vegan at first, many of them gluten free, with the option to add your own dressings and delicious vegan, veggie, dairy, meat and fish toppings, perfect beach or day trip picnic stuff!
(due to the heat of summer the traditional Sunday Roast becomes a little intense and may be unavailable, Summer BBQ style Roast specials become a thing!)