Music will be at the heart of Stratford new cafe/bistro
A NEW café aiming to offer a Paris bistro experience – with music, talks and a cabaret atmosphere – opened this week.
The venue, on the corner of Greenhill Street and Windsor Street in Stratford, has been refurbished to create The Music Café, a joint venture between former dancers Ian Meeson and Carl Walker.
The couple, who have lived in Stratford for five years, are following their dreams of opening a café that mixes their love of music and vegan food.
“We call ourselves a ‘music bistro’ because we are licensed but we are a café,” said Ian. “We do café food – some of it’s quite posh and some of it’s very normal.
“It’s all plant-based and that’s purely because we are.”
It is a completely new avenue for the pair, despite having run their own business before – a theatrical/dance school – and worked in events. Before that, Ian performed in West End shows such as Cats, Fame and Joseph, while Carl was an actor/dancer in films, including Alice in Wonderland and Gulliver’s Travels.
However, Carl also has a passion food and decided to qualify as a chef specialising in plant-based dishes.
“Carl’s always wanted to be a chef – along with the dance world, he’s always been into that,” said Ian. “He qualified at Demuths in Bath, a vegan chef school, and he said to me, ‘Shall we do it?’”
Lockdown gave them time to talk more about their plans and they decided to “take the risk”.
“Boris Johnson gave us a loan and off we went.”
The Music Café will be a normal café during the day, taking on the bistro vibe in the evenings and staying open until 11pm seven days a week.
It opened on Monday, but the programme of events – there will be two a week – starts in July.
“That will include jazz, classical and folk musicians and we’ve also got talks from all different people which will relate back to music – we’ve got someone from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, hopefully someone from the navy, someone from a mindfulness yoga background,” said Ian. “The idea is that people come to the evening event, have something to eat first and then watch it like a show. We actually focus on the performer for an hour. It’s like something you would see in Paris or London, that sort of vibe.”
The business has created ten jobs, which Ian admits does come with some pressure. But he added: “We think it could be amazing. We’re doing it because we love it – as long as we can pay the mortgage and we can pay the staff and the artists, then we’ll be happy and we can sleep at night. We’re not in it for the money.”
He promised the food would be substantial and there will be “normal” milk for those who like dairy in their tea or coffee.