‘Iconic’ Bury St Edmunds cafe has new owners, a new name and a new look
- Credit: Rachel Edge
No.5 Angel Hill to bring European style coffee culture to the west Suffolk town.
No.5 Angel Hill (formerly The Scandinavia Coffee House) holds a special place in the hearts of new owners Charlie and Tanya Athorne. Overlooking one of Bury St Edmunds’ most iconic spots, with views to the Abbey Gardens and Cathedral, it was here Tanya had her first job in the UK, studying in the language school above. Working just a few steps away as pastry chef at the Angel Hotel was Charlie. The pair met, fell in love, and have been visiting the café ever since, with Charlie saying they thought of previous owner Pauline as “like a distant auntie. She’d give us advice on life and all kinds of things so this place is really special to us.”
The couple bought the business last November, saying it’s their dream location. “This café has always been our ‘guilty pleasure’. We always said if we had our own place this is where we’d want to be –wouldn’t that be amazing? And then the opportunity came up!”
Tanya and Charlie have taken their time to bring their vision for No.5 to life, aiming for the feel of a European coffee house where you can stop by for a slice of cake and watch the world go by, maybe have some nibbles, then share a glass (or bottle) of wine as the evening sets in. “I love coffee culture,” smiles Charlie. “And we’ve got some great restaurants, cafes and bars in Bury, but we want to offer something a bit different really. During the day it’s very much a coffee shop with sandwiches, jacket potatoes, hot meals (for example today we’ve got chorizo and butterbean cassoulet and meatball ragu), and a selection of cakes and scones. We have the No.5 full English, breakfast croissants, eggs Benedict, Florentine and royale, pastries and pancakes for breakfast. And there are smaller portions for children. In fact...we’ve asked our children to write the children’s menu. They will physically write it so the menu the customer gets is the one they have written and drawn on themselves.”
And what beckons for the evenings?
“Our strapline is we’re a wine and coffee house and phase two, moving forward, will see us opening up into the evenings. I have a fantastic wine bin put together with Ed from Hallgarten Druitt. It’s something that hits every palate, and it’s affordable too. That’s the main thing for me – there’s no point having really lovely wines but pricing them out of reach. We’ll have about 40 to choose from with seven whites, seven reds, four sparkling and a rose by the glass soon. And we’ll also have a ‘wine library’ so people can come in and buy a bottle to take home, and I plan on creating almost like a little wine club, arranging trips for our guests, that would be lovely.”
The design of No.5 Charlie likens to a cross between Top Gear and Central Perk (from Friends) – in fact, there’s one seating area they’re calling Angel Perk! The only thing they haven’t scrapped (sentimentally) is the old chairs, which have been stripped back and repainted to match the new colour scheme.
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Presented with a blank canvas, both Tanya and Charlie wanted to do something really different inside, so have worked very closely with David Palmer of DappR Aviation in Rougham, who has crafted furnishings and fixtures quite unlike anything else you’ll find in the town. “They completely got deep into our vision of what we wanted to do,” says Charlie of the business, which upcycles parts of old aircraft, turning them into tables, bars, mirrors, shelving and more. “They’ve built our bar, benches and mirrors. We’ve got lovely stools by them and a beautiful coffee table which was part of a water pump off a Gypsy Queen engine. And there’s a table in the centre of the room with a glass top, filled with cogs and metalwork. These are things that stimulate a conversation and guests have been coming in asking where they can get some of the mirrors and clocks from. It’s a really lovely partnership.”
Creating community events is important to the couple, adds Charlie, who is chairman of Bury St Edmunds Round Table this year, saying “the town and community is very set within me”. Charity and community events will be planned throughout the year so No. 5 can ‘give back’ to the town. In fact, at the time of this interview the kitchen team were busy baking cakes to sell for a campaign at West Suffolk Hospital raising money to create a new garden area.
“We can’t wait to welcome new customers in. There’s a huge amount of expectation on us for it to be good because it’s an iconic building in Bury. I want it to be right,” adds Charlie, “and I want the people of Bury to be proud of what we’re doing.”
The coffee house is open seven days a week from 9am to 5.30pm with late openings coming soon.