Birthday Post

Today we are one year old.

In thinking about the things that we would like to do to celebrate our first birthday, we have considered a few different things over the last couple of weeks. Late night party? Too knackered! Cake? We do that every day! Large gathering of people? See above. We would love to celebrate properly the fact that for one whole year we have managed to keep open what we hope is a amazing, vibrant, and popular community cafe. The only thing is, we are a combination of a bit too busy/tired/ frantic with future ideas that we didn’t exactly get round to actually doing anything. We thought the best that we could do to celebrate and say thank you, would be to try to say something. Here goes! We are so happy to be in the position we are in and honestly we appreciate it every day that we are fulfilling our aspiration to run such a cafe. But really, and this bit always sounds corny but is completely necessary, we could not have done it alone.


So this blog, letter, post, call it what you will, is really a celebration of the fact that we are lucky enough to be part of Something. Something is the brilliant Umbrella Community Centre, which we will talk more about later, but has been re-energised recently, and we have been lucky enough to be part of the ride. Something is the wonderful people we are lucky to work with everyday who feel the same passion that we do about the Centre and the Cafe and are all working towards the same goal to make it the best place it can be. Something is the fact that Whitstable is such a fantastic place to want to collaborate with other people in business. Lastly but certainly not least, Something is the enthusiasm and encouragement our amazing customers have given us since day one of opening.

I don’t want to talk too much business, however we do have a very important announcement to make. Rachel, part of the original trio of The Umbrella Cafe, has decided to pass on the cafe baton to someone else. She has a beautiful 6 month old, Leon, to concentrate on for the moment and has just moved to Faversham. Rachel arrived back in Whitstable from her latest sailing adventure to be swept up in another sort of venture by Caroline and I back in October 2015. She came on board with total enthusiasm and there are many parts of the cafe that will carry on in her honour, not least the totally addictive creamy mushrooms on toast! We wish her well on her journey and we are sure she will be starting foodie excitement in Faversham soon. Jenny will be coming on board with us ‘officially’, even though she has been an important part of the cafe for 6 months now. Not only does she make amazing cakes, but her imagination towards baking and fervour for the cafe means that we are very excited to have her as part of our team.

Team really is what it is all about. That is what makes the community in our cafe. We certainly don’t want to harp on about ourselves (that is for the late night part of party celebrations and we decided to write a letter!) but what we would like to say is that there are things that warm our hearts everyday in the cafe. Seeing people of all generations enjoying the garden together, letting a man who clearly hasn’t eaten well in days clear our free cake sample plate in minutes, and serving plates upon plates of cheese on toast every day to people from all socio-economic backgrounds; it really is the foodstuff that brings people together. There are certainly things we do every day in the cafe that serve our creative sides, be it inventing new allergy friendly cakes, planning Film Club menus, brushing up on our coffee making skills and event planning to name a few. But it’s the giving away a recipe to an excited customer, knowing that Film Club is so friendly that people will happily come by themselves, offering people £1 filter alongside the fancy stuff and collaborating with others on fundraising and charity events that gives us a spring in our steps and makes us happy to come to work every day.

The Centre's lounge

The Centre’s lounge

To tie in with this ‘Team theme’ I could not of course finish without mentioning Umbrella Day. The Umbrella Community Centre really is full of amazing people and stuff. By stuff I of course mean anything from classes, events, parties, charity events, supportive meet ups, information workshops and much, much more. How can you stay up to date with everything we and the Centre have going on and more importantly, also feel a part of it all? It couldn’t be easier or more accessible. Come and see us (we’re the cafe behind the centre that does £1 teas and old school sardines on toast!), the Centre, Peekaboos or Jims in town and for £1 (we don’t mind if you spend it on this rather than a tea with us) you get a lovely pink badge and the ability to be part of YOUR Community Centre. With this comes the privilege of being on the mailing list for all the events in the Centre and the cafe. You can also find out more about volunteering or holding your own event at the Centre. They have some fantastic rooms to hire and all the money goes back into the pot to keep the Centre going. Without the Centre there would be no cafe and we are grateful to have been part of the journey over the last 12 months of rejuvenation. Remember you can hire us out also on a Sunday for events, workshops or parties and we can signpost you towards the Centre’s lounge space adjacent to us, if that is more suitable.

The only words I have left are thank you! Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for understanding us and our vision. Thank you for coming in regularly, sometimes twice or three times a day. Thank you for collaborating with us, giving us ideas and advice. Lastly, thank you for keeping us open for the last 12 months and here is to the next chapter of The Umbrella Cafe!