Update 11/11/18: It seems hardly yesterday when I first visited Grafters Cafe and as a result did an enthusiastic, and as it turned out, well read review (see below) of what I found. I was sold on the idea this could be bold and innovative idea for budget breakfast places. But I am now reminded one of the hard lessons I learned in life is if something appears too good to be true, it often is. Reading the recent Echo article: “Grafters Cafe famous for its 99p full English closes suddenly” would seem to support this idea. I hope the Echo is wrong, but I suspect, reading various comments, that is not the case. Can Grafters get back on track is anyone’s guess, but it isn’t looking good. If it is as I fear the worst outcome, I am embarrassed given my earlier enthusiasm, but more importantly I hope the honourable thing is done and all debts are settled. And for the time being, standard budget breakfast places can breathe easy.
People who follow my blogs will know I rather fancy myself as a restaurant reviewer and often do reviews. I am particularly keen on Full English Breakfasts and places that offer great deals.
It was brought to my attention during the week that there is a new a kid in town, called Grafters café, offering great breakfast deals, including one that costs 99p, just like what is shown in the picture. When I read an article reviewing this new enterprise (We tried Southend’s new 99p Full English Breakfast, and the results were surprising) and a comment by a friend who knows a thing or two about eating breakfasts out, I knew this was a place I needed to check out. I did so today before my early morning walk.
Grafters is situated near Hamlet Court Road, opposite the London Road car park. It is airy and spacious. The staff were attentive (one I found I knew – another story) and service was speedy. I decided to go for the “double” plus a cup of tea and it came to £3, definitely the best deal in town, by a long way. And it wasn’t cheap stuff either! Quality SAUSAGES – imho this is what makes for a great breakfast, yet I understand why cafes at the cheaper end of the market go for cheap and nasty. But the sausages at Grafters were top notch!
I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast, noting all ingredients were good quality, and got to speak to all the friendly staff. I was pretty full at the end and even had to forgo one of the toasts. Things weren’t too busy given my time of arrival and that did help, although it is early days, I understand it can get very busy. I notice they do a lunchtime offering as well and an extensive choice meal deal, the sort these days that are common place, for £1.99. If I had a gripe, and it was minor, there were no extras like tomatoes and mushrooms on offer and the small cup of tea that was provided was definitely NOT the best deal in town, but I guess this is where they make their money.
I couldn’t help wondering how Grafters can be profitable selling such cheap breakfasts and what was the catch. It happened that Spencer, its affable owner, was around to answer my questions and chat. I understand he has a unique way to source ingredients, which included to my understanding investing in something like the Pork futures market and getting sausages made to order. I sense a social concern e.g. possibilities around helping the homeless and training people and helping children of families with little money as well as innovative ideas around partnering with the local football club. I understand Spencer is opening other cafes and could even go nationwide with a concept akin to what Pound Stretcher does.
I left with a smile on my face, not just because I ate so well, and so cheaply, but that I was dealing with nice people with a social conscience. There was a minor incident of a customer with a likely unfounded complaint and I loved their customer is always right approach. It is early days still but Spencer told me that national media has cottoned on to what he is doing and from what I can make out his enterprise will be well publicized. Like many a new enterprise, we watch developments with interest. As I see it, they deserve to do well, and hope they do. I look forward to future visits.