Origin Fine Foods in Bradford is thought to be among the only business of its kind to use nothing but Yorkshire-made produce in all its food.
As well as cutting down on ‘food miles’ – the distance food travels from farm to the plate – the cafe and deli is supporting the county’s incredibly diverse food producers, and in turn, helping to protect jobs.
However, café owners Jenni and Abbey have gone even further and introduced a wealth of initiatives which support the local community.
Some are incredibly simple but highly effective – such as offering free toast and milk breakfast to local schoolchildren to ensure no one need go to school hungry and offering passers-by the use of the café toilets without insisting they stop to make a purchase. Surplus food goes to charities.
The latest idea has seen the café, in Park Lane, Clayton, join the nationwide Chatty Café scheme, which sees businesses set aside a special space for solo customers who feel they’d like to share a little bit of their day just chatting to someone else.
The innovative ideas have transformed what was once an empty bakery building into a vibrant community hub – and given Jenni the chance to see her bright business ideas come to fruition.
And her model for a unique all-Yorkshire ‘business with a heart’ has proved so successful that it could be rolled out to other locations.
“Because I’m my own boss I can decide to do things that are a bit different, without having to ask someone higher up the chain if it’s okay,” said Jenni, who opened Origin Fine Foods eight months ago with her business partner.
“As soon as I saw this empty building, I knew it was perfect for what I wanted to achieve.”
The former bakery was being sold by business specialists, Leeds-based Ernest Wilson. Its empty shell offered a blank canvas for her to put her own stamp on.
The 35-cover daytime café and evening bistro has now been tastefully decorated with local artist’s artwork hanging on the walls and deli shelves packed with locally produced food for customers to buy.
“Everything we make is made using Yorkshire products,” added Jenni. “People can be surprised at that. But Yorkshire is such a bountiful big county and there are so many new artisan companies here.
“There aren’t many products that customers have asked for that we can’t find made here in Yorkshire, including wine and gin!”
The environmentally-conscious business ensures all food packaging is compostable, spent coffee grounds are given away to gardeners and vegetable scraps to pet owners.
The free breakfasts for local children helps the café ensure there’s no food waste at the end of the day, while giving free refills of tap water to children visiting the nearby park is, says Jenni, just part of being a welcoming community-minded business.
The café is constantly evolving and responding to customers’ demands, adds Jenni. And because she is her own boss, she can act fast to ensure she meets their needs.
“I love being self-employed,” she said, “because it gives me the freedom to get on with all the ideas I have.
“If this was someone else’s business, I’d have to just do what I was told and wait for them to decide what they want to do.
“I had lots of help from Ernest Wilson’s experts who came up with a number of properties before we found this one.
“I saw it on the Friday, and by Monday the paperwork was underway.
“It’s been fantastic – and I’m looking forward to seeing where we go next.”
Do you have brilliant business ideas and could being self-employed work for you? Browse existing businesses and discuss your options with the experts at Ernest Wilson. Visit https://www.ernest-wilson.co.uk/cafes to find out more.