Thrive Cambridge

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.

Thrive Cambridge

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.

Thrive Cambridge

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.

Thrive Cambridge

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 Cambridge

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 Thrive Cambridge

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.

Thrive Cambridge

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

Stem + Glory

Louise Palmer-Masterton is a powerhouse!  She has founded and is running two highly successful businesses in the city and she’s fizzing with energy and ideas.  I met Louise in Stem + Glory, her new vegan cafe in King Street.

Stem and Glory logo pic
Image credit: Stem + Glory

Louise tells me that she enjoys food and cooking and has herself been vegan for many years.  Camyoga, the yoga business that she started in 2003, took off straight away and over fourteen years has grown into a multi studio enterprise offering not only yoga classes but workshops and teacher training courses too.  Having opened a small cafe, really just for the yoga clients, Louise began to develop ideas for a larger vegan cafe and when a site became available at Mitchams Corner in 2016, she successfully crowdfunded the project to open a cafe and yoga studio there.  The cafe was open to the public from the start, offering fast, fresh and healthy plant-based food to eat in or take out through the day and vegan fine dining in the evenings.

When the opportunity came to open a city centre vegan cafe at the old Afternoon Tease premises in King Street earlier this year, Louise didn’t waste any time.  She again crowdfunded successfully to refurbish and refit both sites.  Mitchams Corner is now a table service restaurant at lunch and dinner.  The new King Street cafe, staffed by the existing Afternoon Tease team, is the place for fast healthy eating and it’s been buzzing since it opened its doors in November.

Stem and Glory counter
Image credit: Stem + Glory

If you’re eating in, you can pile your plate from a selection of hot dishes and salads for £9.  If you’re on the go, you can do the same but put it in a box (small, medium or large) to take away.  Wraps are always available along with cakes, coffee, tea, soft drinks and shakes.  There’s a small breakfast menu at the moment but that will be expanding soon and a brunch menu is on the way.

Stem and Glory cauli and rocket salad
Image credit: Stem + Glory

My daughter and I grabbed a table on a busy Saturday and we were eating the colourful food with our eyes before it got anywhere near our mouths!  Pumpkin tagine was aromatic while the earthy warmth of a beetroot and horseradish pie with mushroom was perfectly complemented by a fluffy mashed potato topping.  Spicy bulghur wheat salad came speckled with herbs and mixed seeds, carrot and fennel salad was fresh and crunchy while the cauliflower and rocket salad was drizzled with a silky tahini dressing.  There’ll be a different style of menu each week so there’s always something new and delicious on offer.

Louise’s success with Camyoga and Stem + Glory has been recognised with two awards this year – the Cambridge Business Excellence Awards Small Business of the Year and Best Newcomer at the Cambridge Food and Drink Awards.  And I can’t wait to see what Louise does next ….. she has big plans for Stem + Glory in 2018 so watch this space!

13 King Street, Cambridge CB1 1LH