My Journey In Building Pearl Lemon Cafe

My Journey In Building Pearl Lemon Cafe

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Here’s the time as per usual:

Tue 5 April

I want to walk you through my plan with Pearl Lemon Cafe – something that in many ways has been in the making for a few years now.

Let’s go from the top:

How deciding to launch a Cafe came about

Strawberry, my partner, will soon be graduating from university as a mature student. Her major is in Osteopathy and so her home studio (the converted 2nd bedroom in our flat) has become something of a hindrance to our daily lives.

Furthermore, it became apparent that I couldn’t afford the price of getting a residential property in the area that Strawberry and I would be happy with. With those prices pegged at the £1-1.2 million mark – and myself falling short of this by 300k..I could wait a year, sit on my deposit….or do something different.

Naturally – something different came to mind upon discovering a unit with the virtual freehold for sale at a reasonable price of £300k.

Having made the offer immediately and getting an informal ‘yes’ – it’s now a matter of going through all of the steps involved in getting a commercial property mortgage – which will take 4-5 months I expect.

So – as it happened…upon our journey we discovered there was a unit also for rent….literally a 2-minute walk from the planned pilates studio.

Both are less than a 2-minute walk as well from where we live.

And so it just seemed nonsensical to not go for both.

So I put an offer in – the offer’s been accepted…and well – now I’m putting together this blog 🙂

Preparations For The Cafe Itself

So the address is Unit #1, 250 North End Road SW6 1NJ, and here are the plans:

Right now I’m going through the processes involved with finalising the lease agreement (which I was able to get over the line by offering 6-months rent upfront). Practical next steps are (since I’ve put down a deposit for the place) are:

  • Finalising the lease-agreement with a solicitor, then once that’s done, transferring the 6-months rent across
  • Then during that time, I need to work things out with the contractor – or at least put the preliminary plans in place
  • Once the contractor’s work is underway – the equipment purchasing itself will begin

The design

So having had several conversations with the proposed contractor (who built several cafes along North End Road) – we’ve got the basic framework for what the layout might look like:


The above was designed by my partner Strawberry and is frankly amazing and represents a vision of how the cafe will look once it’s up and running.

Basic themes and concepts are:

  • Plants
  • Lemons
  • Clean/open space (as much as the tiny unit allows)

And then build from there.

The food and beverage selection

In this space, the focus is going to be:

  • The usual coffee range
  • Gluten and lactose-free food items
  • Some Matcha items (based upon what we do in the cafe in Marleybone)
  • Some focus on products for gym goers (3-doors down from the unit)

At a high-level these will be the focus.

The fundamental idea is it’s a reflection of the Pearl Lemon company ethos >

Young, vibrant, energetic and full of energy and life.

The equipment selection

This is something I’ll take the advice from several sources which include (but are not limited to):

  • Google searches (reviews on listicles, Amazon and the like)
  • Personal recommendations from the cafe’s that I frequent
  • Generally walking into a cafe and asking
  • Cold emails I’m sending to coffee companies

I’ve already got something of a list I’ve been sent in terms of machine options and all:

  • La Marzocco – Linea Classic
  • La Marzocco – Linea PB
  • Coffee Grinder
  • Victoria Ardunino – Mythos One

There are lots of smaller items to consider which I’ll look at getting from Nisbets which fortunately happens to be local to the shop so I’ll get cups and other bits and bobs from there.

The Staff

I’ve already had a discussion with my cousin Jay whose happy to run the cafe as it’s something that she loves.

Having someone that I know and trust to manage the cafe is going to be brilliant in ensuring its growth –

Here’s a snippet from a conversation we’ve been having throughout the day.

Whatsapp View

So with her support as well as hiring a Barista potentially to work the hours my cousin can’t (given a 10 hour opening period 7 days a week) we should cover this off.

The Location For Pearl Lemon Cafe

The local footfall is extremely strong – literally next door to it there’s a barbershop, minimarket, gym and supermarket:

The Location

Opposite there’s a dentist and food market:

The Location

In general, the area has high footfall because of the densely packed nature of North End Road.

Here we see a Travelodge hotel, a big cafe, cake shop and burger place – all less than 3 minutes from the cafe:

Google Map Location

The cafe itself is going to be part of the ‘Bella Shopping Centre’ – which will contain several small businesses – so the opportunity to sell coffee to my neighbours and their customers will be high.

The B2B Opportunity For Pearl Lemon Cafe

So, within the area, there are 100+ businesses within 0.5 miles

Google Map Location

With this in mind – upon opening the cafe – here are a couple of things I intend to do:

  • Do a voicemail drop (i.e leave messages on their answering machines) en masse offering local businesses some kind of deal on their first coffee – and then ongoing discounts
  • Do the same thing over email
  • Visit at least 50 of the businesses in person to offer the same kind of deal

With the businesses on the same street as ours I intend to forge even closer relationships:

Google Map Location

Again with a view to build some level of referral relationships with these businesses in exchange for heavily discounted coffee.

[convertful id=”197358″]

Other general B2B Ideas

  1. Subscription Coffee for businesses
  2. Free coffee for influencers who can send clients our way
  3. Asking business owners themselves for any ideas they have
  4. Our location inside a shopping centre itself (albeit a tiny one) with 5-6 other businesses there – meaning we will benefit from the customers they drive coming in – which could be big all of itself

The Cross Sell Opportunity

Fulham as an area has no shortage of businesses as well as entrepreneurs – and given Pearl Lemon, as a company builds websites and ranks them on Google it opens up a real sales opportunity.

By this fundamentally I mean being able to identify such individuals and where relevant offer them our services.

Having spent alot of time sitting in cafes – you get all manner of business owner’s that come in.

Furthermore, I confirmed this by asking a friend of mine at Coffee Underground – how many business owner’s she sees walk through the doors….

And she said dozens – which validates my plan.

Furthermore, there’s the coffee truck that I visit on North End Road – Souter Bro’s. Daniel (one of the two brothers) told me his brother Stuart was away the last two days because he picked up some graphic design work from customers of the truck itself.

And that in general – their coffee truck had been good for his design business.

Thus underlining that building websites for local businesses is definitely going to be possible.

The Health & Fitness Opportunity

As someone who pays for personal training at the local gym – I’ve built a strong relationship with my personal trainer and see opportunities here.

Broadly – there isn’t anything serving them by way of easily accessible protein. Mixing caffeine and protein and/or matcha and protein will be a solid way to initially attract the gym crowd.

Having two products – one for pre-workout and one for post-workout will be an excellent way to get this crowd coming to Pearl Lemon Cafe.

This is not even considering any food opportunities.

i.e we can uncover the food needs of those who go to the gym and explore pre-orders for opening up a dark kitchen and moving into food subscription.

To this end there are countless opportunities for cross-selling.

Even in Coffee Underground, I discovered there was a patron of the store who was in search of amazing Matcha and didn’t mind making a trip to Marleybone for it as she said ‘I work around there’.

The Product Opportunity

There are many 6,7 and 8 figure coffee businesses we’ve never heard of out there that have built big businesses through the sale of their own range of coffee beans and paraphernalia.

Looking at the local market, it’s clear to see from the Souter Bros as well as Coffee Underground and several other cafe’s – that one of the bigger aims of their local ‘in-person’ and ‘in-store’ presence is to sell their coffee beans.

And having done a quick Google – identifying a brand (once we do taste and quality testing) seems straightforward enough:

Pearl Lemon Coffee

There’s a big market for this type of model.

And given the Pearl Lemon brand with lemons is relatively strong – this can ofc extend to other products such as cups, t-shirts or otherwise.

The SEO and eCommerce Growth Opportunity

Growing a big coffee blog is going to be important to our success, alongside growing an eCommerce part of the company.

Whatsapp View

To that end we’ve already written 36,000 words of content across 31 blogs – with a goal to write 150 blogs in total over the next 6-weeks:

Whatsapp View

Needless to say – if we can drive lots of traffic to our website – this will also open an abundance of opportunities.

We’re taking this part very seriously.

This is notwithstanding the big social opportunity that exists for a business like this. At some level, we will definitely be bringing in a video director and producing high-quality YouTube, Instagram and TikTok content.

In the first instance, this will involve finding a local videographer and getting an initial batch of promotional content produced.

A Commitment To Always Be Testing

So naturally, as this is a new venture – there are going to be a million and one small things that I’ll need to learn and adjust as I move forward.

Whether it’s product choice, customers who actually end up being patrons of the store, alongside staffing challenges, health and safety, equipment maintenance, issues with my neighbours or who knows.

And the other 101 issues I’ve yet to even discover because I don’t know what I don’t know.

But that’s part of the whole challenge and adventure ofc.

With this in mind the first 12-weeks are going to be a monumental challenge as we get things up and running so that the cafe ultimately starts to generate revenue.

The Bigger Vision

Pearl Lemon Cafe is a business I hope to see flourish and grow with cafe’s dotted across London and functioning as part co-working part cafe’s where entrepreneurs can come, hang out, have coffee and they can serve as hubs for the digital business that the first Pearl Lemon Cafe is being funded by.

If the cafe does as well as I hope it will – we will open 1 new cafe every 6-months around West London in a bid to grow the brand and all of the opportunities that come with it as quickly as possible.

I’m excited, and I hope this plan makes you as excited as it makes me 🙂

I’m not even scratching the surface of what’s possible 🙂