“I started off working in hotels, mainly front of house, working for De Vere Hotels down at the Grand in Eastbourne, and after meeting my husband and business partner Derek we decided to move to the Tunbridge Wells area. I briefly had a period of working for building societies which I didn’t enjoy and then worked for Cadbury’s as a sales representative and then moved to a senior position with a company called Phostrogen who were an equivalent to Miracle Gro, the plant food people, dealing with horticultural chemicals; I was the southeast sales manager. We then had children and I moved away from working for a few years, Derek was working in his own company Invicta Lamb when the foot and mouth crisis hit. So, we decided to do something together!
We combined his knowledge of food safety and technology with my front of house and catering experience, and we opened here in 2004. It took a couple of years to get this site and initially we were a franchisee with O’Briens so opened as an Irish sandwich bar. We did our training and were looking for the right place, we looked at Brighton, but it was too expensive, so we decided to look a bit closer to home. We were standing where we are now, and there was a mock-up coffee shop, and they were filming an episode of 2 point 4 children – it was a sign! So, we approached the owners of the site and they agreed to let us have the space. It was meant to be.
We operated as an O’Briens for about six years, but they got into difficulties in the UK, they wanted to concentrate on their Irish franchisees, so the UK side got neglected and we had to start trading under a different name. We fortunately owned the lease, so we rebranded to Taste Wells, it’s a good name for Google and SEO due to the TW for Tunbridge Wells and we are pleased to say we are now in our 19th year!
We’ve developed the business into something more than it was, we’ve extended our seating around the stairs here in Royal Victoria Place as well as expanding our range. It’s what the town needs, when people are shopping, they just want a coffee and a sandwich or a coffee and a panini – it’s a simple offering and what people want, and I’m pleased to say that we are very busy! We have some great people on our team, Chris Peers has been with us for 10 years and with our daughter Hattie they run shop on a day-to-day basis, and we really rely on their knowledge and experience.
We have a fabulous customer base, some days we know what day of the week it is by who’s sat where, for example we know it’s Monday as all the gym girls are in, it’s really lovely. It’s all about the people.
When we opened, I had in my head the line from the song from the TV show Cheers ‘I want to go to a place where everybody knows my name’ I wanted it to be a sociable place, a bit like your local but without the alcohol, when we see people walking up the mall we know what they are going to order and we start making it so it’s ready for when they arrive, people love that!”
Taste Wells is an independent, family run cafe and catering business operating since 2004.
We pride ourselves on the quality of our food, service and the relationships we have built with our wonderful customers.
We deliver the same freshly prepared food that we sell in our shop and try wherever possible to use locally sourced fresh ingredients.
Our ethos is customer service, flexibility and value for money so if you enjoy good food, made to your specific requirements and delivered to your place of work in our refrigerated vans get in touch today and see how we can meet your catering needs.