The Umbrella Café CIC is a community café for everybody. We’re human (and dog!) friendly. We do coffee, teas and have a good selection of fresh herbal infusions and cold drinks. We are also fully licensed and serve local beer and cider, as well as fair-trade wine.
Our ‘On Toast’ and breakfast menus are available all day, including our own ‘Full Umbrella’ and our creamy mushrooms on toast. We also have bigger home-cooked lunches and a kids’ menu. Of course, there will always be cake, all baked by us. If you don’t, won’t or can’t do gluten, dairy or eggs, you’ll be happy here. If meat is your thing, we always have bacon huffkins and a bigger lunch option to choose from.
We’ve got cosy spaces, quiet spaces (with free Wi-Fi) and spaces to chat. We like to think we’re one of the friendliest and most accessible cafés in Whitstable – come with your friends and sit around, or come on your own and chat to us!
We are located at the rear of The Umbrella Community Centre, and share their beautiful town garden, with lots of space to sit around in. We run not-for-profit and commit to giving back to the Centre.
We all run the café with a love of community, food and people. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do and we look forward to seeing you soon
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I was born in Whitstable and am so pleased to be back here, after a stint living in Cambridge, helping to run the community cafe. I have done many different jobs in the past, including being the first Wren at sea! The Navy couldn’t keep me, but I feel really comfortable being at the helm of such a vibrant and friendly community café.
A recent major life re-evaluation threw me into the Umbrella Café in 2016, after over 30 years of working in London and provincial hotel management. I am passionate about creative cooking and experimenting with food, and running the café has become an important part of my life, alongside my small but perfectly formed family.
In a past life I was a nurse on an acute medical ward. Now I enjoy tending to gluten-free pastry and bread recipes, instead of patients. I love helping to organise the community and fundraising events and being part of the kitchen team.
Non Executive Directors
First up is the very lovely and brilliant marketing mind that is Sally Falvey. Sally has recently moved back to Kent with her family after a period in London, and after settling in Whitstable quickly fell in love with the Umbrella Centre and cafe. She has 15 years of experience in the tech & charity sectors flexing her marketing expertise. We are chuffed that she will be lending a little of her time to assist us.
We have known Sharon on and off via our Community Payback placements and via social media for a couple of years now. It was fantastic to see her name pop up over email when we put the call out and we are really happy she is now one of 'our 3'.
Sharon is extremely busy already, with two different full time jobs, one of which is via her role in the Community Payback scheme which linked us originally in 2017 but she also believes in 'giving back' to her community as she has done via various capacities over the last 5 years. Living locally, Sharon knows a lot about issues that affect the immediate area and wants to help using her skills and knowledge. She applied to be a NED after keeping in touch via social media and following our community involvement and wanting to help us grow and be a sustainable success.
Here is Sharon enjoying some downtime with her husband in gorgeous Greece, we're all about finding time to chill out as well!
Lois Holland Leonard
Lois we have known since we opened in 2015, as a local mum of young kids she has always been aware of the cafe’s inclusivity.
Lois’s career has spanned media, marketing, PR, advertising and events but the common thread throughout the years has been her entrepreneurial spirit and love of business. In her own words, "I am the sort of person who can be at a party and spend the night brainstorming with someone their latest business idea - and having the best time of my life!
Lois and her husband set up their events business 8 years ago that now turns over a million pound plus and presents one of the biggest events globally in their sector as their flagship brand. She has mentored startups and entrepreneurs as they set up businesses; guiding them in both product development, and the mechanics of running and developing a young business, whilst mastering that magical cashflow. She is also happy to talk about her experience of making mistakes, facing bad times and staying optimistic. We are really lucky to have Lois on board, as she has a knack of seeing where the customers are, what they want, and mirroring this up to what businesses like ours can offer. As a social enterprise, we always need to balance our social & charitable aims with a good revenue income to ensure we can stay viable and open to all as a community business.