Modern Coffee in a Victorian Setting – The lEas Lift Café
The Leas Lift Café is open for deliciously good coffee and more. At the base of the Victorian Water Lift, which is currently going through plans for renovation, you can enjoy a cream tea or take away snacks. Jamie Evans and Emily Fahey spoke to Folkelife about their ideas for the café.
Emily: “We used to run a café in Shoreditch for around 3 years and then moved on to Coffee Carts. Our cart in Kings Cross Station had so many customers from Folkestone that we decided we’d come down to have a look. We had been living on a boat in London and wanted more space to start a family. Folkestone, well, we fell in love with it immediately. We’d looked at other seaside towns but there’s something about Folkestone that just feels like you’re on holiday.
“Our route from the station took us through Kingsnorth Gardens, which are just beautiful, and we stayed in the West of the town. We bought a house just off Tontine Street which is so central to all the things we want to be involved in. It still feels like we’re on holiday even though we’ve been here for two and a half years already!”
Trains and coffee machines
Jamie: “The commute to London was so easy, especially as our coffee cart was at Kings Cross. But when we saw the tender for the Leas Lift, we really got excited. The cart has been closed for Covid, and this project is something we can get into, and become part of the town. We had been looking at this area to offer something for a while. There are so many different customers. Families play in the Coastal Park, there are lots of dog walkers, and now there are the builders from the Seafront Development too. Since we’ve been preparing to open the café, we’ve had railway enthusiasts drop in, as well as local residents. This is an important part of Folkestone for many people, and it’s so good to be opening up in this setting.”
Grade II Listed Building
Jamie: “It was a bit daunting at first to take over this Grade II Listed Building as we wondered if we could realise our ideas here, but it’s been really exciting. We have space in the waiting room for socially distanced tables and chairs. There’s a corridor leading to the kitchen and take-away area. Because of the broad range of customers our menu will adapt to suit them.”
Emily: “All Day Breakfast butties are a must, not just for the builders, but for everyone! And there’s always room for cake on the menu. Jamie’s thing is coffee; he makes very good coffee, so we’re looking forward to introducing some different flavours to the customers. And our hot chocolate is melted chocolate with hot milk – it’s really quite special.”
Eat in or take away
Emily: “We want to offer food that can be eaten in or taken away. This is such a beautiful setting, but whilst the weather is good, it’s a shame not to enjoy what’s on our doorstep too. And if people don’t feel comfortable sitting in while Covid is still a threat, we’re happy to accommodate that. As well as take away drinks, we have sandwiches and soups too, if the weather is cold.”
Jamie: “This is such an important place for many people. We’re really excited to be a part of the Leas Lift opening up again. A percentage of our profits go towards the renovations, and we’re thrilled that a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant has just been awarded to help with those too. It will be a while before the Lift is in working order, but it’s good to be able to work in this fantastic part of Folkestone’s history.”
You can read more of Jamie and Emily’s story in a Guardian article on starting a business in the middle of a pandemic.