Caz’s award-winning Mersey cafe shows treats can be tasty, healthy – and make money

In October Caz’s Kitchen in St John’s Road in Waterloo was recognised at the Merseyside Independent Business Awards where Caz’s Kitchen received the very first Special Judges’ Award. Neil Hodgson reports

Caroline Hill outside her Waterloo café, Caz’s Kitchen

 

You can have your cake, and eat it, at Waterloo cake baker extraordinaire Caroline Hill’s Waterloo café.

Not only does Caz’s Kitchen offer some of the most sumptuous concoctions around, they are also among the most healthy treats available.

Caz said this was paramount when she set up her venture in 2014: “I do feel that we have positively impacted a lot of people by providing an alternative to a normal cake.

“A lot of regulars would not normally have tried that sort of thing, but they have now added them to their favourites’ list.”

MIB Award

In October Caz was recognised at the Merseyside Independent Business Awards where Caz’s Kitchen received the very first Special Judges’ Award.

She was nominated in both the Retailer of the Year and Community Impact categories, but was presented with the inaugural Judges’ Award after the panel declared it was “unanimously impressed” by her business model.

For Caz, it was recognition of years of hard graft: “The judges’ award was better than winning the awards we were nominated for. We’re still a bit gob-smacked. It is the first award we have won.

She added: “We’re very aware of our support locally, but to be recognised at one of the most prestigious events on Merseyside is fantastic. It’s also great recognition for our locality, which is really important to us.”

Community support

By offering her alternative range cooked with natural and fresh ingredients, including fruits from her own allotment, alongside a traditional menu of cakes, desserts, tartes, tortes, cheesecakes and puddings, she has become a firm favourite within her local community.

That support has vindicated Caz’s business model, which began with a degree in Food Science & Nutrition and led to roles in product development for most of the major retailers.

However, she said she gradually became disillusioned: “When I started in product development I was developing 10 products over six months. By the end I was juggling 200 products with a three-week turnaround from concept to launch.”

She was also unhappy with the process: “I was developing healthy-eating products and would take out fat and sugar, but then would have to put in E numbers to replace the functionality they represented. In my opinion it’s healthier to just have a bit of butter.

“Healthy for me is about proper wholefoods that don’t come from a manufactured packet. If you want a treat, have a real homemade piece of cake, not a ‘chemical’ cake from the supermarkets.”

Changing tastes

She has also developed a range of special treats. Her Happy Healthy Yum lines are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, refined sugar-free treats designed to fill you up and satisfy with slow-releasing energy.

Caz admitted: “When we opened we were the first in Liverpool to do the raw/vegan cakes. I believe if I had opened a shop just selling the healthy cakes three years ago I don’t think people would have come.”

Caz was recognised at the Merseyside Independent Business Awards where Caz’s Kitchen received the very first Special Judges’ Award

 

But she said people’s tastes have slowly changed: “We don’t make nearly as much margin on the healthy cakes, but I feel that is my good deed to our community and I can afford to have my business model work like that as they sit alongside our standard lines.”

Getting started

Caz decided to follow her own destiny 10 years ago and set up her own coffee shop and deli.

She approached St James Street-based The Women’s Organisation which advised her on a business plan.

But finding the perfect premises proved elusive, so, Caz split her time working for a Liverpool restaurant and baking for friends and clients at home until she found her ideal location in St John’s Road in 2014.

Recently she returned to The Women’s Organisation to hone her business skills even more and she consequently was put on the growth programme, New Markets 2.

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