Read our guest blog from winner of Best Cafe 2016 Derby Musems The Coffee House.
When the judge announced the winner and said Derby Museums, I was in shock. I couldn’t move or say anything until my colleague turned around and looked at me, and started shouting and celebrating. It was unbelievable.
This was the pinnacle of a long journey that started out in June 2014 when the Museum café opened. The name, The Coffee House, was suggested by a team member who said that in the 18th century cafes were called Coffee Houses.
We were finalist in the Derby Food and Drink Awards 2014 and though glad to be recognised, we felt it was a bit too early for us but it was evidence that we were on the right track. We were determined to win the 2016 award and so every time a customer commented on how good the food/service was, we suggested they nominate us. We did some social media activity to encourage our nomination but didn’t force the issue because people should naturally want to nominate us if they thought we were good enough. I did nominate the café on behalf of the museum and thought the process was easy and straight-forward.
When I was told that we were in the final three, I was ecstatic. I immediately told everyone at the museum as well as the trustees who were all delighted and congratulated us all. For me, just being nominated and mentioned with the likes of Bean Café and Café Caruso was good enough and It felt as if we had actually won the award. It was noticeable that all the front of house team and the café team had a spring in their step and seemed more upbeat and proud of their café.
I never in my wildest dreams thought we would win but inside I was hoping that we would and when we did, “wow what a feeling”. When I took the award back to the Museum, everyone wanted to see it and have their picture taken. It has taken pride of place at the front, for the first week or so, we displayed it in amongst the cakes to make sure no one missed the fact that we are the best café in Derby. I immediately got the ‘Winner’ logo’s printed and stuck on the front window at the entrance. After John Forkin’s speech I thought I make the most of this situation given that not many people know we have a café in the museum.
The impact it’s had on the business has been phenomenal. Our takings in the first week was nearly double what we were used to do and during half term we broke our daily record 3 times in a week. The feedback we have received has reflected the fantastic service and food/drink we offer. Our tripadvisor reviews have all been great and every time the café is mentioned, its always been complimentary. I can see a big difference between not being nominated (2015), being finalist (2014) and winning (2016) and would encourage everyone to enter these prestigious awards and will definitely be looking to enter next year.