We are just leaving Queens Arcade, and crossing into St David’s shopping centre, on this walking tour of Cardiff. St David's was opened in 1981. There are entrances on Queen Street, Cathedral Walk, Working Street, and Hills Street, the last of these connecting to the large 2009 extension. The three main sections in the original part of St David’s, where we are today, are called Town Wall, Cathedral Walk and St. David's Way.
St David’s hosts Cardiff’s main concentration of designer shops, national chain stores and restaurants. Most big UK-wide food companies started in some form as local businesses. Today, as our tangential theme, we will look at what point a business stops being local – with a particular focus on Greggs.
2 Town Wall CF10 2DQ (2002 0126)
Soho Coffee has around 25 outlets, mainly in the Midlands and southwest England. The other one in Wales is in the Capitol Centre, also in Cardiff. Their HQ is in Cheltenham, from where their main kitchen supplies their outlets. They participate in community activities and work with several Cheltenham schools, for example, sponsoring rugby, netball and hockey teams. Soho Coffee favour airport locations (e.g., Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Malaga); but have nothing in London and seemingly have no connection with London’s Soho. They describe themselves as an independent, privately-owned business. Fairtrade coffee, roasted in the Forest of Dean. Breakfast menu and a typical range of lunchtime baguettes, paninis, wraps, jacket potatoes, cakes and pastries. Their website has a gallery of froth designs made by staff for their first Latte Art final last year in Bristol, which look more charmingly creative than seriously professional barista; Paulina from Dublin Airport was judged the winner (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Dec 2011).
On you left:
bb’s Coffee & Muffins
1 Town Wall North CF10 2DQ (2034 0851)
Breakfast and brunch are served at bb’s. There are over 30 bb’s in England and Scotland; this is the only Welsh outlet. The website gives no home location and talks of franchises, so it appears this chain is not one that has built up from a successful local business. There are chairs stuck to the ceilings and walls, which is a little odd in a shopping mall context (though would seem pretty normal in some of Cardiff’s local independents), and more seating upstairs (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. March 2013).
5 Town Wall North CF10 2DQ
Greggs is everywhere; seemingly on every high street in every town and city. There are at least 25 Greggs in Cardiff. However, Greggs was once a local business. Its history is outlined in a book by Ian Gregg, a former MD and son of the founder John Gregg, called ‘Bread: The Story of GREGGS – How a small family business became the high street favourite’ (2013). The book opens with a barrage of statistics, for example, Greggs serves a million customers every day from over 1,600 shops in the UK. The business grew from a delivery service in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the 1930s. The first retail outlet and bakery opened in Gosforth in 1951; when it became a limited company, though very much still a family business. Through the 1960s the business expanded in north-east England, and then to Glasgow in the early 1970s. For each regional expansion, Greggs introduced local specialities. In Glasgow, it was the bridie, and in Manchester it was parkin. Meanwhile, in Tyneside, Greggs helped launch a revival of the traditional stotty cake. In 1984, the company went public and was answerable to external stakeholders for the first time – a big step away from being a local family-run company. Greggs entered the Welsh market in 1985, when it bought Merrett’s, a part of Allied Bakeries. A production unit was opened on the Treforest Industrial Estate (Greggs of Treforest), just outside Cardiff, where the company made Welsh cakes for the first time. Ian Gregg relates that they searched out laver bread in bakeries as a potential regional product, before realising it was not actually a bread product. The Treforest bakery subsequently expanded, and in 2013 it was supplying 170 Greggs in Wales and south-east England. Today, Greggs is a unified single brand, with all its stores supplied by strategically-located regional bakeries and distribution centres. I bought some Welsh cakes in St David’s, but otherwise the range was fairly typical of any UK Greggs. Ian Gregg’s book includes ten recipes, including one for Welsh cakes. However, these “are the original small-scale, traditional or regional recipes from which Greggs’ recipes evolved.” The food is today produced on an industrial scale, using the ingredients and technology of rapid bread production. Nevertheless, Greggs retains a connection to its home region of north-east England, particularly as a focus for its charitable and community work through the Greggs Foundation. Greggs were an early funder of breakfast clubs at schools, for example, and all the profits of Ian Gregg’s book go to help fund more Breakfast Clubs (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2014).
At the crossways, turn right, and on your right:
The Bagel Bar and Coffee House
13 St David's Way CF10 2DP (2034 5826)
Bagel Bar’s first store opened in Dublin in 2001. They now have around 15 stores, with Cardiff being a rare excursion outside Ireland. There are giant pictures of bagels on the wall, of which they have a large variety of sweet and savoury varieties. Also serving wraps, paninis, toasties, salads and soups, pastries, smoothies and coffees.
Here, St David’s exits to Working Street, by the St David Hall:
2 St David’s CF10 2DP
With a main door off Working Street, we’ll pass this Costa again later (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2013).
Turn around and go straight across Town Wall.
There’s a Boots on the left, which we will pass on Queen Street (to where it extends). There is a statue of Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards about to launch a ball down this length of mall.
The turning takes this section out to Queen Street. Turn around and back to junction, turn left down the southern section of the Town Wall. Go to the very far end, behind the escalator, on your right:
42 Town Wall South CF10 2EW
Krispy Kreme was founded in Winston-Salem, USA, in 1937. The first UK store was opened in Harrods, London, in October 2003. This Krispy Kreme Coffee Bar arrived in Cardiff on 19 April 2011 (I was at the launch party the night before – see link below). Around this time, there were queues of people snaked round the city centre for free doughnuts. There is only the one Krispy Kreme Coffee Bar in Wales; most outlets are in-store cabinets in Tesco, MOTO and Welcome Break. The latest coffee bar promotions are for some pretty thick-looking Kreme Shakes (Chocolate dreamshake, Strawberries and cream, Caramel Crunch, and Caramel latte), and the new chocolate range of doughnuts, including Raspberry truffle and Peanut butter kreme. I went for the latter with a latte. The Peanut butter kreme has only been on sale for a few weeks, but it is already one of their biggest sellers. It was a very good doughnut, though the peanut flavour was a little more subtle than I was expecting. That’s nearly 20% of my daily calorie intake accounted for then (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2011).
Go up the escalator to the bridge to the St David’s extension, which was opened in 2009:
Bridge, 19-21 upper level Town Hall South CF10 1BA
Convenient shoppers' rest station, with the usual Starbucks range of coffee and cakes (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2014).
I will see you here next time, for a tour of the cathedral-like Grand Arcade of St David’s.
Just to finish, I have noticed that public seating both here in St David's (near TGI Friday Eastside) and elsewhere in Cardiff has disappearing recently, so that the only seating available in such shopping areas is attached to the range of coffee shops and restaurants. Anything I should know about? Cheers.
Krispy Kreme opening in Cardiff:
Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:
Queen Street Arcade
Duke Street Arcade and Duke Street
High Street Arcade
Church Street and St John’s Street
Wharton Street and Trinity Street
The Old Brewery Quarter
Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade
St Mary Street
Castle Arcade and Castle Street
Womanby Street and Quay Street
Cowbridge Road East 3
Cowbridge Road East 2
Cowbridge Road East 1