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    Cafe News, News

    Cherry Reds Kings Heath is closing…

    Cherry Reds in Kings Heath is closing.  It hasn’t closed yet, but it is closing.  That’s the essence of this blog post and I want you to remember that it’s as simple as that.  A whole pile of things have closed or are threatened with closure and there are rumours swirling about, much like the current weather. But with Kings Heath’s Cherry Reds, it’s a lot simpler.

    Jen, the owner of Cherry Reds, asked to have a chat with me about this and honestly I thought it was going to be a therapy session because I bloody love Cherry Reds.  I love the Kings Heath Cherry Reds even though it took over the greasy spoon cafe I had an affinity towards because it served me sausage and bacon sandwiches when I first moved to Kings Heath.

    “People asked how I got started, and the simple answer is with experience and savings from running pubs for M&B, as well as help from friends and family” says Jen. And this comes through, Cherry Reds is the sort of low-key place that caters for a multitude of dietary requirements without having fifty-thousand menus to certify this; vegan cake sits alongside cake with lashings of buttercream and you can order a vegan full English just as easily as you can a meaty one. No one judges you for ordering tea and cake on a Friday night, and there’s a great selection of beers without being all holier-than-thou about its craft beer credentials. The staff are consistently lovely, from letting your pregnant friend queue-jump a sudden influx of people because you were saving the table, through to explaining the ins and outs of Pokemon Go.

    It might well be their Twitter handle, but it’s true. I do love Cherry Reds. But more importantly, so does Jen; “A few years back I was having a mini-meltdown, probably about some unconstructive negative review online, and one of the team tried to comfort me by saying that I take these things too personally. It occurred to me that she was right, I do take it personally.”

    So why is Cherry Reds in Kings Heath closing? Rumours have been going around for a while that it was going to turn into this, that and the other. Or with seemingly a new coffee shop opening in Kings Heath daily, has Jen had enough? Nope, it’s a lot simpler than that…it’s about putting down roots and making the painful decision to let something you love go, so it can become better. “Last year while still trying to find the money for a deposit on a house, I asked myself whether I had the energy and funds to invest in Kings Heath too, which seven years on needs a new lease of life. I feel a new owner could do it better and allow me to move on to other projects.”

    “I never really intended to do Cherrys on a bigger scale, but the momentum kicked in and when thing started clicking into place and I thought I’d see how much I could borrow. John Bright St opened in September 2014, again things were tight, a few months in a row I was late paying people which was definitely the lowest point, but they stuck by me, which I’ll never forget” admits Jen. “I may have done it the hard way, but the whole point was to be my own boss, make my own mistakes and trust my own long game, so an investor was out of the question for me.”

    “Growth for the sake of growth, take more money, spend less every year. Kudos to those people who have built big businesses from nothing, but it’s not a road I think ends well for staff or customer experience.” And whilst so many other places might bang on about customer experience, people are at the heart of Cherry Reds – both the customers and the staff. Jen is thankful for both; “I have been fortunate enough to work with and serve some awesome humans over the last seven years, as well as working alongside great businesses made up of more great humans. I thank them all for truly caring, helping me build my little business and making the tough times worth getting through.”

    Cherry Reds in Kings Heath is closing because Jen wants it to become more, to flourish. And we’re not losing Cherry Reds entirely; “John Bright St Cherrys will continue to bring a little bit of the Kings Heath spirit into the city centre.” Jen tells me. And for that I’m thankful, because in a sea of chain coffee shops, pre-ripped wallpaper and overly complicated menus, there still sits a corner of the city where Cherry Reds stands out as the kind of place which welcomes everyone, without any fuss. And there’s nothing more Brummie than that.

    Cherry Reds in Kings Heath is currently up for sale and will close when a new buyer is found – which means you still have time to go. I’ll keep you updated.

    Cafe News, News

    Peel & Stone’s Harborne trials

    12963794_1016768338370235_4963485007455706341_nNot content with being the best bakery in the JQ, Peel & Stone are soon to be opening up in Harborne and they’re holding a series of pop-up events at their JQ site to give us hungry folk of Birmingham an idea of what to expect, as well as meet the team.

    On Saturday 9th and 16th April from 10am – 2pm they’ll be hosting a takeaway brunch with menu options including the likes of The Ultimate Bacon Sandwich, N’duja Hash and Montreal Cinnamon & Maple French Toast, as well as tea and coffee.  And I hear there might also be roasted banana sorbet, which is surely breakfast dessert, something I think Birmingham is well on its way to making A Thing.

    They also doing two afternoon / early evening pop ups those days too.  On Saturday 9th April is the Hockley Ke-Bab which is a menu of slow roasted lamb, jerk chicken or spicy potatas bravas kebabs with a side of old bay seasoned sautéed potatoes from 4 – 8pm.  And then Saturday 16th April is Cafe Cubano, at which they will be selling The Cuban sandwich and Fancy Grilled Cheese. The Cuban is likely to be featured on their Harborne menu, because why on earth wouldn’t you?!

    If you want to check out stuff it’s on their website.  And when it opens, Peel & Stone Harborne will be located at the top end of the High St, near the roundabout (but far enough away from the swimming baths that you won’t feel guilty for indulging).


    Cafe News, Food and Restaurant News, News, Pop Ups and Streetfood

    More new ventures for Birmingham


    Wow it’s a busy old time in Birmingham’s food and drink scene.  I blogged about five openings coming to the city and no sooner had I clicked ‘publish’ but a raft of others have appeared!  Here are another few places that have or are due to open in the city soon, plus a couple of pop ups and residences…

    Hare & Hounds Pop-ups

    From South Indian dosa to pie from Eastside and South African dishes, the Hare and Hounds is playing host to three pop-ups this month with Pop Up Dosa on the 15th, Savanna Grill on the 22nd and Pietanic on the 29th January.  Tickets for each of the events are £15 and available via their website.

    Big Papa’s Beautiful South to take over the Sunflower Lounge

    To be honest I didn’t even realise the Sunflower Lounge had a kitchen until the boys at Big Papa’s announced they were partnering with the venue.  Known for their soul food streetfood, Big Papa’s will be taking over the kitchen seven days a week from 21st January; expect blackened shrimp, buttermilk fried chicken and cola-pulled brisket on the menu.

    Cosy Club in the Midland Bank

    The rumour mill had the original Midland Bank pegged as many things, but the Birmingham Post announced a deal was struck and it’ll become the first city centre venture by the Loungers group, who already have a number of cafe-bars in the city.  Agreeing a 25 year lease and spending a raft of money on repairs and a substantial fit out of the Grade II listed building, the venue will become a Cosy Club café-bar and is expected to open sometime in the spring.

    Quinto Lounge in Sutton Coldfield

    But if you need your fix of a new Loungers venture, then Quinto Lounge in Sutton Coldfield town centre opens today (14th January).  Taking over a two-story furniture store on the Birmingham Road, the venue will echo it’s over locations with a retro home from home serving up all-day breakfasts plus tapas and burgers.

    Kyoto Sushi and Grill on Hurst Street 

    For a while sushi restaurants were a bit thin on the ground in Brum, but the tide is changing and with that comes Kyoto Sushi and Grill in the Arcadian on Hurst St.  With an all-you-can-eat buffet concept you get two hours to order and eat as much freshly prepared food, with over 70 dishes on the menu, including sushi, soups and handmade rolls.

    Cafe News, Drinks

    Coffee tax and Birmingham

    Screen shot 2014-08-10 at 17.11.44

    Fellow Brummie Jon Hickman has written a really interesting article over on Contributoria about tax, coffee shops and Birmingham.

    It’s well worth a read – and not just because I’m quoted in it.  But it looks at issues which have affected both Cafe Blend and very recently Ashton Levi, both well loved coffee shops sadly forced to close.

    I’m a big fan of independent coffee shops, I think they offer a great deal to the city both in quality of products (although I have a giant soft spot for Costa’s gingerbread soya lattes) and the willingness to open up their space for book clubs, exhibitions and spoken word.  The article gives a really interesting insight into the issues affecting independent businesses and the people behind them.

    Read the article here.