Slice of success for Saffron Walden couple as they open new cafe
PUBLISHED: 08:27 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:41 14 March 2019
A Saffron Walden couple are celebrating opening their first café after starting their venture with a bright blue van they bought on eBay four years ago.
Jodie, 30, and Adam Law, 33, started selling pizza from a van in Wendens Ambo back in 2015 and, by the end of their adventures on the road, they were selling 100 pizzas every night.
“We built it up to four nights a week - that was Adam’s full time job,” said Jodie. “But we couldn’t grow so we decided to get this space.”
Diners can find their new pizza business, Bonnefirebox, at a permanent site in Wimbish, and their blue van is a permanent feature too.
Adam, a chef, had always dreamed of having a food truck like the ones he saw in the south of France.
“Adam had wanted to do it for years and years and he had seen pizza vans in these little villages in France serving pizza to the whole community. That’s what he wanted to do here,” Jodie says.
And they did just that. The couple, who met six years ago and now have an 18-month-old daughter, started travelling around villages in Uttlesford to sell pizza from a wood oven in their van and towards the end, they were selling out every night and couldn’t meet customer demand.
“We couldn’t reach everyone we wanted to - people were asking for us to do parties, but then we would miss out on villages on certain nights,” Jodie says. “So we got our customer base and they can come to us now.”
Jodie has 11 years of experience as a waitress and says she loves putting her degree in fashion and retailing to work by styling the interior of the cafe and hosting craft workshops.
“We built some of the tables from scaffold boards and I’ve done the illustrations around the cafe,” she says.
After studying fashion, Jodie took a fast-track course to train as a teacher and spent five years in a secondary school in Bishop’s Stortford.
“I’ve done a lot in 10 years. I do miss some parts of teaching, but here I can bring it all together. We had a storyteller come in and I’m going to do business talks for students. And I want to host craft workshops and talks here. I can do all the things I love in this space. There’s so much potential with a big space like this.”
On Friday evenings and Saturday lunchtimes, the pair fire up the wood oven in the van and serve pizza. It’s their busiest time, Jodie says. On Saturdays, they often have at least 100 customers.
During the week, their menu consists of big sourdough sandwiches for lunch and ‘not just vegan’ French toast for breakfast.
“Everything you see on the menu is made here. Adam cooks at home and we try things at home before we put it on the menu here. We tried the vegetarian bhajis at home recently and thought they were so good.”
Things got busy very quickly at the cafe and the pair underestimated the help they would need.
“Adam was the only chef but within the first week we knew we had to get another chef in, it was so busy,” Jodie says. “We have a small daughter at home so the breakfast and lunch hours here mean we get to see her in the evening which is really important to us. My mum looks after her during the day and Adam’s dad helps out here, so it really is a family affair.”
It was Jodie who came up with the name Bonnefirebox, meaning ‘The Good Firebox’.
“We wanted something that didn’t mention the word pizza so it didn’t limit us to that, but included our wood oven. I like the idea of things being a box and ‘bonne’ means good in French so we got Bonnefirebox.”
But Jodie plans to use the space for more than just pizza and craft beer from Wylde Sky Brewing in nearby Linton.
“I want to work with local businesses to use the space for events. I really want this to be a community space.”
Bonnefirebox at Taylors Barns in Wimbish is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-4.30pm, apart from Friday nights when they serve their famous pizzas from their bright blue van.