Young business owner David Hart, of Romford, on travelling to New Zealand but dreaming of a café in Romford
17:40 19 February 2013
David Hart’s skills in the kitchen have seen him working as far afield as New Zealand – but he never could resist a bit of home cooking.
Despite the tough economic climate, former Emerson Park student David realised his dream of setting up a café back home in Havering last year. Now the 26-year-old is tentatively celebrating a successful first six months.
“It’s always hard, especially in the times we’re in,” he said, “but we’ve advertised ourselves with the Recorder a few times, and along with word of mouth that’s helped the business grow.
“I’d always wanted to be a chef, for as long as I can remember – it’s all I wanted to do as a kid. I was always cooking.
“As soon as I left school I did an apprenticeship with the Academy of Culinary Arts. That lasted three years and I went to work in fine dining up on the Strand.
“From there I went to New Zealand and Australia, and I travelled about and worked in a few restaurants out there – but the next step was to get somewhere local. I always wanted to come back and set up somewhere in Romford.”
The Hart’s Café owner reckons his experience in fine dining marks out the Victoria Road shop as something a bit different.
“Everything’s cooked from fresh and we use local suppliers,” he said. “The menu is quite traditional – we make a different pie every day, liver and onions, sausage casserole and so on – but everything is cooked from scratch.
“It’s like fine dining but I’m trying to strip it back – we’ve got a traditional working man’s café ethic. It comes without the pretension or price of eating out.”
As well as watching his own business develop, David said he was supporting the borough by employing local staff and using suppliers such as Sanderson’s Bakery in Harold Hill and Williams Butchers in Gidea Park.
“We’re still finding our feet,” he said, “but I hope we’ll be able to grow and become a bit more successful.
“You can’t move for cafes in Romford but we’re trying to be a bit different.”