A fine arts graduate who got the taste for serving up fabulous food by running supper clubs from home has taken the step of opening her own cafe.
And investors in Miriam’s Kitchen Table at North Road, Kirkburton, are being rewarded for their support with an unusual form of dividend – free cups of coffee.
Miriam Leece, 41, said: “I used to work at the Handmade Bakery in Slaithwaite, first as a volunteer and later as a director as part of their co-operative.
“After I left on maternity leave I decided to start a supper club from home. I used to run it as and when I wanted, but it became very popular. I did that for three-and-a-half years and we were always fully booked and ended up having several each month.”
But with up to 18 guests at any one time around the table in the family’s end-terrace house, Miriam realised the supper club concept had reached its limits.
“I decided it couldn’t grow any bigger,” she said. “I was always interested in food. My mum and dad had been in catering for a while and I’d always wanted to open a bakery, which is how I ended up with the Handmade Bakery for four years.”
To fund Miriam’s Kitchen Table, she sold “coffee bonds” to investors who paid £1,000 to support the business and now get a dividend in coffee. ”They get a free coffee every week – 52 coffees a year,” she said. “That’s the return on their investment. At the end of three or five years, they get their money back.
“We raised £11,000 that way. We also had some savings that we put forward and ‘begged and borrowed’ to get the cafe up and running.”
The cafe has 24 covers and is based in premises previously used as a vintage clothes shop.
Miriam said: “I had all my customers – over 500 followers from the supper clubs – so I decided to keep the name ‘My Kitchen Table’.
The menu includes healthy lunches and brunches with “lots of things on toast”. As well as serving Darkwoods Coffee, the cafe uses bread from artisan bakery Roger’s Bread – both businesses based in Marsden. There’s also a range of soups, pastries and cakes. “We try to make absolutely everything on the premises,” said Miriam.
As well as two part-time workers, Miriam’s eldest daughter Raphaella, 16, lends as hand by doing the washing up on Saturdays. Miriam and husband Brendan, 42, also have three other children, Milli, 13, Gabriel, 10 and five-year-old Ethan.
The decor in Miriam’s Kitchen includes her paintings of Raphaella and Milli.
The family’s foodie connections extend to Miriam’s sister, Alex Vickers, who also has her own cafe, The Peppercorn at Trinity Street in Huddersfield.
Speaking about her venture, Miriam said: “I think it’s going really well. We have lots of very loyal customers – and having the coffee bonds has helped. They’re investors in the business and have been our best ambassadors.”miriam