Main image: Claire John who is running the new cafe at Novers Park Community and Social Club
Local people have long been asking for more cafes across the community – and now three have opened in the Knowle area this month.
In the absence of a pub, social places to meet are of key importance to Knowle Westers – and with the easing of COVID restrictions cafe culture is starting to take off again.
Novers Park Community and Social Club cafe
The first to open its doors last week – serving breakfasts and lunches – has been the cafe at the long-running Novers Park Community and Social Club.
Accessible either from Knowle West Media Centre on Leinster Avenue or from Novers Park Road, the new enterprise is based in the revamped hall – with the option for customers to eat on tables outside in warm weather.
It’s being run by local resident Claire John who says custom has been building up as people discover where it is and hear about it from word of mouth.
She says: “People are loving that there’s space here. The feedback we’ve had has been absolutely fantastic, they like the fact it’s local, the food is cheap and they have somewhere to park…
“At the moment we are keeping the prices cheaper because a lot of people have big families in the area. The customers come in and can’t believe what’s been done to the club.”
Claire got involved after coming to a football night when England was playing, and hearing it was going to open.
With some previous experience she had always wanted to run a cafe and “jumped at the chance” to work at the social club.
“I didn’t want to open on just evenings, I thought it would be nice because we have parking, people can come for breakfast and not travel far.”
Club Secretary Ian Vowles says he wants the cafe to become part of the community – and with a complete refurbishment of the club during lockdown, this is part of welcoming people to the new and improved centre.
The whole point …is to make this a hub for the area
He says: “The whole point to the cafe is to make this a hub for this area, we get a lot of people that say walking from here to Filwood or Inns Court is a struggle… It gives people a chance to know the actual club and come in and see what’s been done.
“We’re coming up to our 60th anniversary next year and the aim is to carry on and become the centre of the community and a place for people to go out as a family.”
Novers Park Community and Social Club cafe is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-1pm and Wednesdays and Fridays from 9-11.30am.
Inns Court Community and Family Centre Cafe
A cafe has just re-opened at Inns Court Community and Family Centre (ICCFC) after eight years absence and will be expanding its menu as it builds up.
Coinciding with the much-anticipated opening of Boing! softplay centre – the new community cafe next to the foyer is for all ages.
It also serves parents, carers and 0-5s attending the softplay in a separate area at the back of the building.
Resident and Cafe Co-ordinator Jo Mereweather who has volunteered at the centre for eight years says local people are pleased to have a cafe back in the locality again.
“Everybody is so happy we are doing something here…”
She says: “Everyone is so happy we are doing something here…People say it’s a lovely environment and the cost is affordable, with more things opening up now, we are welcoming more people in and it helps with their wellbeing.”
CEO of BOING Bristol CIC and Development worker for ICCFC, Richard Reddrop, says in just a few days, footfall to the centre has increased dramatically with the opening of the new facilities.
As the cafe gets more popular, they hope to extend the menu – which currently includes a range of filled jacket potatoes, toasties and home made cakes.
They also want to use produce from the centre’s new community garden as ingredients in future cafe soups and dishes.
He explains: “There’s nothing in this area so it was nice to do something. We were doing Boing! so it was a no brainer to run a community cafe alongside this.
“We are building it up slowly, we want to do this for the local community and also welcome people here to the centre.”
Inns Court Community and Family Centre Cafe based at Marshall Walk is open Monday to Friday from 9am – 3pm.
Catering has always been in the family of Jessie Garrett who was born and grew up in Knowle West – and opened his first cafe in Redcatch Road on 6 September.
Now, working with his mum Kelly, he can’t believe how busy he is already, serving popular breakfasts with a twist, lunches and sandwiches – offering both inside dining and take-aways.
Jessie (29) explains: “I fell out of work at the end of the first lockdown – I’ve always loved cooking so I started doing a delivery service for 13 weeks from mum’s and it took off massively… “
With wonderful comments for his roast dinners – Jessie kept an eye out for a suitable cafe venue across the city – and was lucky to find one close to home.
He says many of his customers can remember the Filwood Grill which was run on Filwood Broadway by his grandmother and his family’s Red & White Cafe which used to be next to the Bristol City Football Club stadium at Ashton Gate.
He says: “Our fried potatoes are very popular – we do them a certain way and people can remember them from the cafe five years ago.
“It’s been really busy so far and non-stop and we are taking on another two ladies to help. At the moment we are closed on Sundays but I am hoping to train them up so I can have a day off and do roast dinners.
“We can seat 26 people inside and I am also going to get outdoor seating. People have been very positive saying, ‘We’re so glad to have another cafe in the area.’ “
Jessie’s Cafe is at 249 Redcatch Road and currently open Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 2pm and Saturdays from 8am -1pm.