How the Prince's Trust supported Natalie's dream of opening a cosy café in Edinburgh
Natalie Kwek, 27, from Edinburgh, came to The Prince’s Trust, with a very clear idea.
“I have always loved baking, and when I saw some empty premises in Newhaven, I realised what I wanted to do with my life: open a unique and cosy café selling lovely homemade treats.”
The premises Natalie wanted for her café were in a terrible state; shabby and run down, Natalie knew it would take more than a lick of paint to turn it into her dream eaterie.
“I knew I had to get it right, so before I put in an offer, I did some market research.”
After studying the local area, footfall and potential competition, Natalie felt confident; she secured a Prince’s Trust start-up loan, successfully made an offer on the building, and kick-started some serious renovation work. While builders were overhauling the building, Natalie began sourcing chairs, tables, antiques, bunting and an assortment of vintage-style china tea-cups and crockery.
“I wanted to create a cosy café full of character that would attract a regular customer base as well as walk-ins from the street.”
She succeeded. Natalie opened the doors of The Haven café in 2011 and saw it become an instant triumph. Selling everything from hearty Scottish breakfasts to homemade cakes - all of which are freshly baked and prepared by Natalie and her team – The Haven’s homemade food and impeccable service earned it rave reviews on online review site, TripAdvisor. It even pipped Edinburgh’s most famous Michelin-starred restaurants to the post by being voted the top eaterie in Edinburgh. T
he Haven has been applauded in the press too, winning high praise from one of The Telegraph’s leading food critics, an incredible achievement. In The Haven, Natalie has not only turned her hobby into a fantastic sustainable business, but has created a truly welcoming community café. She netted an impressive £30,000 profit in her first year and now has a team of eight staff and plenty of plans for expansion.