Welcome to the next instalment of my Create & Inspire feature. Today’s post is all about Cafe Miami, a gorgeous art deco Miami styled cafe in the heart of Clapton and its amazing founder Sophie. I’ve been bragging about Cafe Miami for around a year now and have visited more times than I can remember.
The food is delicious and the service is always top-notch and super friendly, there’s a reason I have lost count of how many visits I’ve made. When I came up with the Create & Inspire feature I knew instantly that I wanted to interview Sophie for the feature. Cafe Miami is one of my favourite cafes in East London if not the whole of London and I’m amazed it only celebrated its 1st birthday in November last year.
It was really amazing to be able to interview Sophie for this feature and see where her inspiration came from to open the cafe. I jumped at the opportunity to photograph her flat which is inside the cafe’s adjoining building named ‘The Strand’. It was like stepping into a Wes Anderson film set. Read on to find out more and keep your eyes peeled for pastel heavenliness below. So lets get stuck into it…
What was your dream job when you were a kid?
I always wanted to be a singer & dancer. I still do deep down!
When did you decide to run your own business?
I think when I was about 7! I’ve always had some sort of ‘business’ on the go; whether it were ironing my dad’s shirts, selling clothes on eBay or renting out my flat for photo shoots & on Airbnb.
I had always wanted to have my own café, since working in one from the age of 15 – 21, but I didn’t actually fully decide to do it until a year and a half ago when I found the space.
What’s your favourite thing about running the cafe?
Having an open door. I love meeting new people & making new friends there, as well as having a place where old friends can come and visit me every day. I just love that there’s now always somewhere that me & my friends can hang out, listen to tunes and eat together and it makes me so happy when friends turn up unexpectedly. It’s not something that you’d really be able to do in any other job, so I’m super appreciative of it!
What do you wish you could tell your former self when your business was starting out?
Not to buy so much of everything! I literally bought 10kg of porridge oats & 5kg of desiccated coconut, imagining that I’d have some huge granola business 😂 You have no idea when you first start out what is going to work for you; what your customers are going to want or even what you’re going to end up wanting to offer. So it’s best to buy a little to begin with, try things out, and then buy in bulk when you’re really sure you’re going to need those things.
What was your first business highlight where you felt proud of what you’d achieved?
I think probably the first day we opened. It took a while for it to actually sink in that I’d actually managed to open my own place and get it looking (almost) exactly as I wanted it to!
Who inspires you creatively?
My friend Matthew. He helps me realise all of my ideas – from designing my logo, developing the menu, taking photos for Instagram to choosing which take-away sandwich bags we should use! He really gets what I like (and don’t like!) & helps me pull things together in a much more refined and artistic way than I could ever manage on my own.
What is your top tip for anyone who’s planning to open their own cafe/restaurant?
Look after your staff when you find good people! You won’t be able to cope without them.
Oh and not to start out too big; in terms of size of space / overhead costs etc. It’s much better to start small and grow than take on too much and crash.
What inspired you to create Cafe Miami?
In terms of having a café in general definitely my mum (who was a cookery writer for 40 years and brought me up to be obsessive, and often picky, about food!) and my first boss Salvatore, who ran a really successful café in Highgate Village. Working there was the best job I’ve ever had so all I wanted to do was re-live those days!
In terms of aesthetic I was inspired by the building that the Café is part of – it’s an Art Deco building called The Strand Building, which was originally an electricity showroom, since converted in to flats. It’s a pastel paradise like something from a Wes Anderson movie. I fell in love with the place when I first viewed a flat there years ago and couldn’t stop thinking about how cool it would be to live there and open a café that was an extension of the theme & atmosphere, as it always makes people so feel so positive as soon as they enter the building.
How was the process of opening the cafe, what lessons did you learn from having the idea to opening day?
The longest part of the process was the signing of the lease. I learnt quite a lot about commercial property and how different it is from residential. You have to be really on top of all of the terms, insurance & health and safety regulations and be patient with the process (that was my biggest struggle as I was just so desperate to get it open!)
What’s on the horizon for Cafe Miami?
I’ve just added quite a few new items to the menu, including a build your own brunch section – for fussy bitches like me! I also want to continue doing more events & potentially some pop ups with guest cooks.
A massive thank you to Sophie for taking part in this feature. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Cafe Miami. If you haven’t visited already, where have you been? Get yourselves down there stat!
24 Lower Clapton Road
London E5 0PD
0208 533 4088
You can follow Cafe Miami on instagram here – @_Cafemiami