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EssentialCounter Culture – Te John Peel

How do you see the UK coffee/cafe scene developing in the coming years in particular for independents with a strong identity like your business? I think people now are far more environmentally conscious and people think more healthily. What we have to do is try and reflect that. With the demise of high streets, high streets are having to change. High streets will see a proliferation of coffee shops and cafés. It won’t matter how many you have – the more refreshment places will draw people in.

Describe how you create an impact and attract customers to your establishment above and beyond the food and drink offering?

The John Peel is a pivotal part of the community – so much happens from here. Shaftesbury in Bloom works from here; The Carnival works out of here; people come in for transport information and come and get their problems solved here. When I was mayor – in 1993, 1997 and 2006 – this was almost called the second town hall!

Tell us about some of your best sellers (food and drink) Our range of breakfasts is popular with customers. Our most popular breakfast is The Peel, which comes with two of everything (toast, eggs, bacon, sausage), plus beans and hash browns or tomatoes. At weekends, our orange juice is very popular. Our unlimited tea proposition is popular too. Latte would be our most popular coffee, while kids like milkshakes or our deluxe hot chocolate with cream and a flake.

Do you have a very mixed customer base or a more targeted visitor profile? We have a good cross-section of regular customers as well as tourists.

The John Peel prides itself on being ‘a pivotal part of the community’

If you could sum up the philosophy behind your business in one paragraph what would it be? We are honest and straightforward – we don’t try and be too clever. We treat everyone that walks through the door as the most important person that has walked in all day. All customers have to have a welcome – not necessarily the same choreographed welcome, but a welcome. Treating everybody as a human being.

Do you use social media platforms to communicate with your customers? As a business, we don’t indulge in social media. However, our customers post comments and upload photos to websites such as Facebook, which drives new customers in to us.

Do you get involved in local events and promotional opportunities?

I am involved in 15 local organisations – president of the football team and the local branch of the St John Ambulance; vice president of Shaftesbury in Bloom; and vice chairman of The Carnival. As a result of my link to organisations, we are always involved in local events. Since we opened in 1976, we have not advertised the business in any publication. When we are rammed and the kitchen is busy we joke and question if we should advertise!

Do you have any big plans for the future? Since we opened in 1976, I still strive for the same thing, for our customer service to be excellent and that standards are kept high. For the future, I’d like the whole team to get even better.

What is most challenging and what is most rewarding about what you do?

The most challenging thing without doubt is that when we are very busy, is to keep on top of standards, such as food presentation and speed of service. The most rewarding thing is when I get a thank you card or letter from a happy customer.

More information: The John Peel +44 (0)1747 853178

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