Playing Shop

Setting up shop is way more of a big deal than I always imagined as a kid. I mean, when you’re playing ‘cafes and restaurants’ at the park as a 7 year-old, you just waltz on up to any old piece of play equipment and start serving customers. A more realistic game would include mountains of paperwork, miles of red tape and endless bills from assorted professionals. I guess our parents didn’t want us littering up the park with balled-up profit and loss statements and tear-stained council permit rejections.

Anyway, you live and learn. I wouldn’t wish to return to the rose-tinted outlook of childhood, even if it was possible. There’s something so satisfying about slogging through the dross of accountability and bureaucracy, and coming out the other side with whatever it is you’re seeking, whether that’s permission to build a street-facing pergola or a helpful referral to a conveyancer near Brighton. Watch this space: the new-look cafe is incoming, and nothing will stand in my way.

It’s true that there have been a few roadblocks on the journey to setting up the space we’ve envisaged – wrong turns with renting and buying, misguided interior remodelling projects, unwelcome surprises around conveyancing and settlement, spats with the council and internal conflicts, just to name a few. It really is all part of the adventure, though, and each setback helps clarify the vision afresh.

For example, we’d never have thought to go with the outdoor dining fitout if it wasn’t for the whole episode with the dodgy ceiling, but look at the outcome – it’s exactly what we need to draw the summer crowd. And if the neighbour hadn’t kicked up a stink about it, we’d never have come up with the crafty solution of separating it into several smaller bandstands for private dining. Communal dining is on the way out, anyway.

I’m sure that childhood game would have been all the more exciting with the addition of some spanners in the works, but at the end of the day it’s all about serving coffee to customers.