We asked the Harborne community for their favourite independents and received an overwhelming response. For Independent Retail Month, we want to highlight these businesses, the real people that run them and the wonderful contribution they make to the High Street!

Today we’re spotlighting Paul at No.41, selected by an overwhelming number of the community on Facebook and Instagram!

We asked Paul about how the café got started, the team that run it and what it’s like being an independent in Harborne. Read the Q+A below!

  1. Tell us about Paul at No.41

We’re a small bistro cafe. Myself and Lee worked together for a chain for 11 years, initially I was a Kitchen Manager and Lee my Head Chef before we took front of house roles and I became General Manager with Lee as my Deputy. We moved around and each restaurant we worked in our results excelled. We then parted company as Lee wanted the General Mangers role working for a different brand. When I was setting up I couldn’t think of anyone better to get on board. When I started recruiting I gave Lee a call to come and have a look and offered him the role but made him aware I couldn’t make any promises regarding wage or even job security! He handed his notice in the next day and we’ve both strived to make it work. My girlfriend, Lynn, helps us on weekends, 2 of Lee’s children, Maddison & Mason and our nephew Joe, who comes in when his college course allows, work for us. I’ve also got a lovely couple of girls Julie and Chloe, I’ve worked with Julie for over 20 years and think of her as family. Chloe wandered in one day and asked for a job and she had the right kind of personality which is the most important aspects for me. I really wanted to focus on hospitality and ensure that every single person that comes through the doors feels welcomed, relaxed and appreciated, something that I feel is lacking in a lot of places. I suppose that this is the foundation of the business & I really feel that we deliver on that! The fact that everyone really cares about the business helps.

  1. How long have you been in Harborne?

I’ve been trading since August 2019, just 6 months before the pandemic came around and closed us for almost a year…. that was tough! That being said, to have survived for 4 years in such a tough, competitive market is a massive achievement that I’m incredibly proud of.

  1. What’s the best part about being an Independent?

The best thing is being able to do things your own way, the way you know works and not having anyone breathing down your neck. It does have it’s own downsides though. As me and Lee are the, I suppose, backbone of the business we have to plan our holidays at the same time and this means we have to close the business. Going independent is the best thing I’ve ever done though, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone willing to take the plunge.

  1. What would you like to let the public know about being an Independent?

That we need the public’s help to survive. We’ve invested small fortunes in ourselves because we enjoy what we do. I feel that this is evident in most of the independents I visit. We have mortgages/rent/education etc that depends on their support. Whoever has set up on their own has most likely invested an awful lot of money and have taken a HUGE risk. Please support us whenever possible. I’m incredibly grateful for the support Harborne has given me!

  1. Are there any news, offers, events you have coming up that you want Harborne to know about?

When I first opened we used to put on a live music night every other Thursday, these were fantastic and loads of fun, it just made the day too long, especially for Lyn who’d come in and help after she’d finished her teaching assistant job. I’m keen to bring them back in school holidays so keep your eyes peeled – follow us on social media, you won’t see many posts from us but anything important like this will be announced on them.

You can follow Paul at No.41 on Facebook and Instagram.

And you can read the rest of the Independent Retailer Month spotlights, here.

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