St Albans’ Café on the Corner is first and foremost a social enterprise. That means our priority is the quality of the training and supported work opportunities we offer to adults with learning disabilities. But attracting customers is key to making sure the café is sustainable in the long term.
‘If we weren’t here, it would be a real loss to the people who get so much out of working here,’ says Social Enterprise Manager, Nicole. And so the team works hard to do all they can to attract customers. Tasty food, arty surroundings and great company.
Fresh food with provenance and low food miles is really important. ‘A lot of the ingredients come from our own allotment,’ says Joanna who works at the café once a week. ‘We do lots of different salads, green beans, beetroot and feta, tomato – we’ve got a really good chutney as well, and a chilli jam that’s made with our chillies.’
The original artwork, created by people we support in our nearby art studio, displayed on the walls means the café looks great too. And the hard work is paying off. The café team recently took part in a local competition to design an Advent window display and won first prize! One regular customer calls us ‘a little gem in a side street’ while others have commented on the friendly, helpful staff and tasty food. ‘We’re hosting a weekly Spanish class and a pottery group’ says Nicole. ‘And we have a regular group of mums and babies meeting here.’
Keeping our focus on the people we support
‘We involve the people we support in everything we do – preparing food, taking orders, making coffee and using the till,’ says Nicole. And the benefits are plain to see.
‘The best thing about the café is the teamwork,’ says Joanna who divides her time between the café, the allotment and the art studio. ‘They call me the queen of scones because I’m so good at it – and I’ve taught other people how to make them too.’
Joanna is gaining more than just food preparation skills. ‘It’s really rewarding to see your own artwork for sale in the café,’ she says. ‘And I love serving customers, especially when the mums and babies come in – the babies are ever so cute!’
If you want to see and hear more from Café on the Corner they have their own Facebook page @CVTcafeonthecorner
39 Catherine Street,
We’re closed on a Monday. Tuesday, we’re open 10.30 am until 4 pm. Wednesday through to Friday. Saturday we’re open 9 am until 4 pm.