Way back when we decided to open 3FE we were left with a conundrum. The space in the main bar of the Twisted Pepper was the best place for a coffee bar with comfy leather sofas, a killer sound system, tables, chairs and everything you need for a great set up. Unfortunately this space was set too far back from the main street so we decided to change tack.
Essentially the lobby became the new focus for 3FE and so we set about puting a coffee shop in a space that had no services and was, essentially, a hallway.
To say I was met with a few sceptical looks was putting it mildly. Opening a cafe in a nightclub lobby was not exactly the done thing but there was something about the space and the people that ran the Twisted Pepper that made it seem like a no-brainer. One of the many DJs that had played the city-centre venue had signed the wall of fame with a phrase that became a mantra for everyone involved in the setting up of 3FE; “Fail we may, sail we must”.
So we did.
Getting going was tough, the weeks over Christmas were as quiet as they were cold as they were demoralising but slowly the numbers started to build. It was difficult getting people into the space but one by one they started to come, and more often than not they decided to return.
We started to gain some favourable reviews like the ones here, here, here and here. There were a few dodgy ones like here (ish) and here but you’ve got to accept the good ones with the bad ones. I’m a firm believer in taking positives from a negative situation and we’ve tried to understand the bad reviews and understand why we were being perceived that way. Luckily the good ones have far outnumbered the bad ones.
After building a solid base over the opening three months we recently hosted (well the Twisted Pepper did) the Irish Barista Championships. This gave us the opportunity to try something new and so when the doors opened on the Tuesday we set rolled the shop back into the main bar and plugged in. One advantage of having a collapsible shop is that you can pretty much set it up where you like. All our counters were built on casters as we’d always anticipated moving out back at some stage and the competitions presented us with the ideal opportunity to do that.
So we did.
The feedback after our temporary move was universal. Everyone liked it, but everyone thought it was too dark and people were worried that we wouldn’t be seen by passers-by on the street. We decided to give the place a bit of a make-over, install some book shelves, brighten up the paint work, give the place a good scrub and make it a bit more day-friendly. The interesting thing about the footfall question was that we had never, and I mean never, attracted the average passer-by. The only people that ever visited 3FE were those that had read/heard about us and those who had been before. Our experience since moving out back has been as expected, those people are still coming and if anything we’re attracting more passers-by!
So, this is now a work in progress. We are conscious of losing that intimacy that we enjoyed in the front and so have constructed our own take on the traditional snug, although in a more inclusive way so that we’re still able to chat with the regulars and coffee geeks. In saying that I think we were losing the crowd that just wants to have a coffee and be left alone, and I think the booths are ideal for that. 3FE 1.0 was a great space but if you were shy or didn’t fancy a chat you were in trouble.
The main reason for this post however is that we need your help. The coffee offering is still the same, and will improve further in the coming weeks, but we need some feedback on what you’d like to see, what you miss and what you think we could do to make 3FE 2.0 better.
We’ve recently started biweekly cupping events, we’re going to include brew classes soon and hopefully a lot more coffee-centric get togethers. As well as that there’s the Beatyard, a foodie-forum (more on this shortly), new craft beer offerings, jazz, clothes markets, comedy and every other random thing you can think of to compliment the Twisted Pepper.
The point is that this is a really cool space so if you think of anything you’d like to see there’s a pretty good chance we can do it so we’re all ears. The Twisted Pepper is going to become the go-to place for weekend daytime activities and we’re really excited about being part of that and will be dropping lots of ideas their way. So drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got any ideas/feedback or you simply wanna get on the mailing list 😉