Spanish couple Alicia and Antonio have opened Secret Cafe in the gardens of St Stephen’s Church, after falling in love with the premises when they moved to Bristol six years ago.
Previously run by Brandon Trust, the previous incarnation of the cafe had been closed since August 2018. After coming to an agreement with vicar Lee Barnes and the St Stephen’s Church Council in March 2019, the cafe has been thriving since re-opening in early June.
Co-owner Antonio explains how they refurbished the cafe, saying: “Alicia has always been creative, she designed the whole space. I just put it all together. We recycled everything, including the old countertops.
“We’ve learnt a lot in refurbishing the place. Even though we don’t belong to the Church of England, everyone has been very accepting. We’re very spiritual people.”
Alicia cooks delicious food with Spanish and Mediterranean inspiration. With everything from paella to fresh cakes, the entire menu is designed and homemade by Alicia every day.
The produce is also sourced locally, from the coffee to the sandwich fillings. Alicia and Antonio pride themselves in being a part of the independent business community in Bristol.
The cafe will be open during the free concerts over lunchtimes and weekend events held by the neighbouring church during the summer months.
The Secret Cafe also hopes to host its own events, such as pop-up dinners in the large cafe garden. They will also exhibit paintings and photography by local artists.
“I’ve never worked in hospitality before,” Antonio, who is trained as an engineer, explains. “I actually really enjoy it, I love making coffees. You meet some really amazing people here, I even come on my days off.
“It been a great journey. Alicia and I compliment each other perfectly in the business. I bring the brains and she brings the heart, we’ve loved it so far.”
Secret Cafe is open Monday to Friday, from 9am-4pm. Find out more at www.facebook.com/secretcafebristol
Secret Cafe, 21 St Stephen’s St, BS1 1EQ