Lisa and Charlotte tell us why they've opened their cafe, and what inspired them to do it.
What made you want to open a café in Saltdean?
Lisa: A number of reasons, first there's nothing like this here and we felt like it was a bit of a gap in the community. We have been friends for a long time and we had the opportunity to do it so went for it! We have always enjoyed afternoon teas and venturing out to cafes and we have always said how wonderful it would be to do it ourselves.
Have you done anything like this before?
Lisa: We both worked in hospitality in our teenage years but opening a cafe is a complete career change for us. I’ve baked wedding cakes for friends and really enjoyed seeing people enjoying my bakes!
How is it going so far?
Charlotte: Really well! We've had no big disasters. Everyone seems really positive and encouraging. Lots of big smiles, people coming in saying “thank you so much for opening!, we've waited YEARS for something like this and to have somewhere nice to go,” there have been lots of people meeting up in here, friends and family, and also it has provided a nice space for people that would otherwise have been quite lonely. We've had the same people coming in regularly already which is really quite humbling. This is one of the main reasons we have opened this cafe, the community thing, getting people out and about, meeting and socialising. It’s a great place for 'people watching' and has a bright and open feel about it.
How did you choose what food and drink you sell?
Lisa: Great question- all the food and drink that we like eating! We've really tried to ensure that there is a little bit of something for everybody. We don’t want to just tick the boxes for the mums and dads on the school run, or the older generation, we want to incorporate everybody in the community which has really helped us shape the menu. There are some gluten free options, we have meaty options and vegan, we like to stay local so our coffee is from a roasters in Lewes, a lot of our ingredients are local and we will change with the seasons as well. Good quality food is what we're into, we don’t have an extensive menu, but what IS on the menu is really good quality food.
When are you open at the moment?
We’re now open Monday - Friday 8.30am-4pm and Saturday 9am-9pm. Hot Brunch is served Tuesday to Saturday 9am-2pm and we’re introducing our first evening opening from 16th October and will be serving Mexican street food and a selection of local wines and ales.
You’ve got some lovely items for sale! How did you choose these?
Charlotte: Well, we did a lot of research, but essentially stuff that we like. There's a couple of bits in there that are locally produced, the Saltdean prints for example, the artist actually designed that for us, and she is based in Seaford. We then have some really nice candles that are diffusers from a Sussex company that have some of their profits go to mental health charities, around 10%. We have also got some children’s things on for sale, as we both have children ourselves and we are now opposite a school so again, our wish is to cater for everybody!
What’s been the hardest thing that you have had to overcome so far?
Lisa: Finding the right balance with children and work life . I think the build project was a bit of a leap of faith, and the project management, all of that side of it was really intense and hard work. The build project was vast and extensive- the builders were here for 22 weeks, it was a long process converting a launderette that has been here for 50 years into a space like this. The juggling of it all has probably been the biggest challenge but it is early days and we got there in the end, it is all short term, the juggling and the settling in.
What are your hopes for the future
Charlotte: We've had so many different ideas the more the project has gone along in terms of trying to cater to everybody's requirements and what the area needs. We are going to see what people ask for. We plan to be in this long term and at the moment we are focusing on establishing ourselves in Saltdean, making sure that everybody knows they are welcome. We feel great in terms of knowing where we can get to in the future.
What advice have you got for anyone thinking of starting up a business?
Both: Do it! We've not done this at all before and it requires a lot of research, but it's all do-able, there is advice available and information if you need it. Try and have some fun with it along the way. We've loved every minute of designing the menu with our cook and designing the place. This is all us we didn’t have anyone in here doing it for us, we sanded the tables, and painted them. All the tables in here are second hand from another restaurant and we've spent literally hours sanding and painting. There's a lot of love poured into this place! We wanted to take ownership of that part of the process.
We are a little delirious with all the work but we are happy and we want this to be a happy place to work for us, and a happy place to be for our customers.
Salt Cafe Address:
114 Lustrells Vale, Saltdean,
Brighton BN2 8FB
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