It takes some bravado to open a new hospitality business in the middle of a global pandemic. But that’s exactly what five friends have done, bringing Thrive, a plant based cafe, bistro and venue, to Norfolk Street.
They’ve created an informal, relaxing and friendly space which reflects their strong values around sustainability and ethics, particularly in relation to animals and the desire to do no harm. The team completely refurbished the building with the help of volunteers and decorated it in a calming colour palette. Existing tables and chairs were retained and refreshed with a lick of paint while carpenter, Cameron Ford, sourced sustainable timber and used beautifully textured live edged wood to clad the serving counter. Darwin Nurseries planted up bright window boxes with flowers and herbs.
Plans to launch in April were scuppered by lockdown but Thrive finally opened its doors in July, initially for takeaway and eating outdoors in its pretty garden. The cafe is now open all day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner plus coffee and cake, of course.
Breakfast, available from 8am, includes a vegan full English. The lunch menu offers Light Bites as well as main dishes. I ordered the Provencal battered oyster mushrooms which came with delicious garlic and rosemary potatoes, aioli and a crunchy coleslaw. And the chocolate fudge cake is just luscious! The beer-battered tofish and homemade Jaffa cakes have been hugely praised on social media so that’s what I’ll order on my next visit.
Thrive also loves to collaborate with other small Cambridge businesses who are doing things well and whose ethos chimes with theirs … Oxwash (an eco friendly laundry service on a bike), Full Circle (a zero waste, plastic free shop which is right next door) and Foodstuff, the zero emissions, pedal powered delivery service who will bring lunch and dinner from Thrive to your doorstep.
The Hive is their first floor function space which can be hired by the hour. It’s suitable for a wide range of events and already it hosts a regular Sunday morning yoga class with Tai Chi sessions starting in October.
Jez and the team are delighted with the fantastic community support of Thrive and they’ve been busier than they expected in these early days. But they’re not resting on their laurels … they welcome customer feedback and continue to respond and adapt, developing the menu and offering one main dish each day at half price.
I reckon Thrive is a great addition to the city’s cafe scene. It’s light and spacious so to me it feels very safe eating there, the food is good and the atmosphere is chilled. Most of all, I love that it’s stemmed from a shared vision of five friends who’ve made their dream a successful reality in these weird Covid days. Long may Thrive thrive!!
Thrive, 5-7 Norfolk Street, Cambridge CB1 2LD