New healthy cafe Hustle & Co opens at former site of Filmore & Union in Harrogate

A new cafe offering healthy, unprocessed food has opened in Harrogate this week, despite ongoing challenges faced by the hospitality industry during the pandemic.

Best friends Jo Bradshaw and Nici Routledge have launched Hustle & Co in Harrogate.

Hustle & Co, which is based at the site of the old Filmore & Union restaurant on Prince Albert Row, on Station Parade, is aimed at serving local, fresh seasonal produce.

The cafe, which will create up to 15 new jobs, was launched on December 7 by two best friends, Nici Routledge and Jo Bradshaw, who have reunited to realise their lifelong dream of owning a cafe in Harrogate.

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Dishes, which have all been created by the pair and are “rooted in the seasons”, will include everything from matcha waffles with broccolini and house hummus, through to in-house gluten-free toasted banana bread topped with homemade roasted nut butter.

Best friends Jo Bradshaw and Nici Routledge have launched Hustle & Co in Harrogate.

They will be served alongside refreshments, including fresh juices, smoothies and Fairtrade house blend coffee, from 8am until early evening.

Ms Routledge said: “We just want to offer something healthy and unprocessed that still feels like a treat."

Ms Routledge added that although opening a new venture in the current climate was scary, she and Ms Bradshaw remained “glass half full people”.

She said: “Uncertainty I see as an opportunity. All my life I’ve embraced change, I’ve lived abroad, I’ve moved around, I’ve done lots of new challenges, from start-up businesses through to house renovations in different areas. So the only constant has been change in my life. Similar for Jo.

“We can only do our best, follow the guidelines and take no chances. We are living with this - maybe for a long time to come - so you start as you mean to go on.

“We are really fortunate in that we have an outdoor space at the front and back, so if there is a threat of closure, or we have to do takeaway only, we could turn it on its head.

“We will also be doing the full menu as a takeaway option for those who prefer to remain at home to make people feel as safe and secure as possible."

The pair secured the Grade II listed premises in Harrogate, which had remained empty since its occupying restaurant closed last spring.

Ms Routledge said: “As a local resident and a member of the gym around the corner, myself and my friends were upset when Filmore closed its doors. We thought it was such a shame and we joked about running it as a community venture. But I actually meant it.”

Last December she spotted a sign in the window saying the landlord had taken back possession.

After contacting the managing agents and agreeing to move forward, Ms Routledge got in touch with her best friend Ms Bradshaw to tell her the news.

The pair, who describe each other as “sisters”, had been on the cusp of opening a cafe together 20 years earlier, but the timing hadn’t been right due to them both having young families.

Ms Routledge said: “We said one day we might get a chance and wouldn’t it be great if we did. And two decades later, I rang Jo and said the perfect place had become available for rent and I think there’s a chance, but I don’t want to do it on my own. I don’t want to do it with anybody else, I only want to do it with you. Would you be up for it?”

However, Ms Bradshaw had established a life abroad and it would have meant a major lifestyle change. But after giving it a lot of thought, Ms Bradshaw agreed and the duo pulled a business plan together and Hustle & Co was born.

Despite having to battle some major hurdles, the green light was eventually officially given in mid-October.

Ms Routledge said: “Jo is just like me. We are two women in our 50s whose raison d’etre is basically to please on a plate. It’s how we show we care. We have always cooked really well for our friends and family and our passion is about cooking a really good plate of food.

“We have always eaten healthily and incorporated the rainbow into our dishes and everything we cook is always fresh and from scratch.”

This was to form the basis of the Hustle & Co ethos and help the business to stand out from the crowd.

Ms Routledge added: “There is a really cohesive message, from our brand, right through to the food that’s served on the plate, as just being nothing added, but the passion in which it is given to you.

“From the passion in the branding, through to the people on our team that adopt our whole philosophy, right through to the ingredients that go into every dish and the inspiration that’s delivered on the plate.

"Every aspect is important to us. We just want to inject life and passion. “So our strapline, ‘nothing added but passion and purpose’ is just a mantra for every aspect of our business model.”

The name Hustle & Co is inspired by Nici’s “hustle and bustle lifestyle”, which sees her always having something on the go, with ‘co’ stemming from the word community.

“We want to work with as many people as we can in the town to collaborate and provide a quality community space,” said Ms Routledge.

Changes to the building include new interior decoration featuring the brand’s colours as well as improvements to the rear courtyard.

Ms Routledge said: “We don’t want to emulate anyone else’s style. Yes it’s in the building of a previously successful brand, but hopefully people will walk through the door and say ‘it’s really different’.

“Everything about us is just passion and purpose and that’s our big mantra. We are so excited to open and share our dream with everyone."

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James Mitchinson