Canal deli 2

Food & Drink: Getting Started

How to change your life by opening a coffee shop

By Gustaf Sjöholm on November 2, 20164 minutes read

Are you dreaming of starting a coffee shop? We serve you the hacks to get going – and chat with first-time cafe entrepreneur Stephania Pena-Nur who proves that big things start small.

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“I like to share what other people do – so we started letting local artists put up their artwork here. Union Canal Deli should be like a welcoming living room”, says founder Stephania Pena-Nur.

I was bored of sitting behind a desk and had been talking about opening my own cafe for years.

“I didn’t really have any experience of running a cafe”, Stephania admits and peers. Instead she had a background in fashion at Ted Baker providing different brands with window displays and preparing events.

“But I was bored of sitting behind a desk and had been talking about opening my own cafe for years, so when this opportunity came up – it all manifested!” The opportunity was an offer for a space in a brand new office building in Ladbroke Grove, perfect for a cafe or restaurant. Less than a year later, Union Canal Deli is a popular independent cafe with a growing number of loyal customers and four to five employees split between part- and full-timers.

What keeps you away from following Stephania? We'll walk you through the basics:

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“I guess the start to what became Union Canal Deli were the supper clubs I was doing for family and friends at home", says Stephania.

Transform passion into reality

What gets you excited and what type of your previous experience can you use in your own business? What’s your competition and what’s missing out there? From hundreds of conversations with our users we've learnt that having a good product that you love and keeping it simple is a great start.

Find the ultimate location

Yep, do your research – and use your instinct. Where is the best place for your planned cafe? From strolling around markets and figuring out to where your customers hang out to go online and figure out who to contact to book a site at a market. Be persistent, don’t give up if you’re convinced that you’ve found the perfect spot, check out our previous article on the topic.

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Stephania's husband Aaron has been supporting from the very start.

Keep track of your paperwork

Boring. But necessary. When you’re trading with food in the UK, there are a number of legal requirements you have to comply with, like license & registration; food hygiene certificates; fire safety and insurance. For tips on what you need, check this list.

Test your product

Don’t let the creation of a business plan kill you! It’s better to have 80% of your idea together than not to get out at all. Just do it! Don’t miss our story "The coffee shop reinvented", about iZettler Deniz Turan – who identified a problem and launched her own type of concierge coffee service.

Seeing my customers happy keeps me constantly looking for new recipes and trying new things.

Set it up!

Well, what type of store do you want? Café, gazebo or food truck? Obviously you need some kind of cooking equipment, a fridge for safe food storage and hand washing facilities. An eye-catching sign can make the difference of being noticed or not.

Be creative, like Stephania, who used her previous experience to add a friendly living room ambience to her cafe. And never forget to be open and responsive to your customers to initiate new ideas – like the BBQ nights at Union Canal Deli  – making this spot so much more than just another coffee shop.


Big things start small – change your life and make your dreams a reality. iZettle helps you start, run and grow your business. Don't forget to keep us posted on your progress!

Gustaf sjoholm Gustaf Sjöholm Blog Editor at iZettle

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