December 5 2013 Latest news:
David Vincent, as in the eadt
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Let’s hear it for the independent businesses in Ipswich
Ipswich Central, in partnership with the Ipswich Star, has again been celebrating the best of independent businesses in the town.
For the second year, the partners asked local customers to nominate the local businesses which stand out for them, in terms of its quality and the level of personal customer service it offers.
Then, a panel of “mystery shoppers” secretly visited the nominated shops, restaurants and other businesses receiving the most votes to see for themselves and to come up with a final shortlist which was considered by the judges.
From this a winner was chosen to fly the flag for independent business in the town − and this year’s winner is Jacey’s Coffee House in St Stephen’s Lane, next to The Ancient House, which is run by Colin and Jackie Williams.
The judges were impressed by the friendly, individual service at the traditional coffee house, where own-blended leaf tea is still served in teapots and their Pure Colombian coffee, served in a cafetiere, is home-ground.
There is home style cooking with cooked breakfasts seven days of the week and changing dishes of the day on the blackboard.
There are mains such as quiche, Welsh rarebit, wraps and baked potatoes, open “melts”, sandwiches, cakes and pastries − all of them home made from the kitchen.
There are 14 different teas, a range of coffees and hot chocolates especially popular when winter weather kicks in.
Emma Pratt, chief executive of EP Marketing and one of the judges for the award, said: “All were deserving but what stood out about Jaceys Coffee House was their exceptional customer service and their willingness to go that extra mile for their customers.”
Another of the judges, Debbie Noye, promotions and events sales manager at Archant Suffolk, which publishes the EADT and the Star, added: “The top three businesses were all outstanding in their own field.
“The friendliness and knowledge of all staff was recognised, along with their first-class customer service.”
Runners-up this year were the Alaturka restaurant in Great Colman Street and Riley & Riley jewellers in the Buttermarket.
Colin and Jackie are approaching their 14th anniversary at St Stephen’s Lane. “We have been here 14 years in December,” said Jackie. “Before that we ran a restaurant in Yoxford, Jacey’s Charcoal Pit – we brought the name with us; the J and C for our names.”
They were at Yoxford for 17 years and with two young daughters wanted to spend more time with them.
The couple have always worked in catering and hospitality. Jackie said: “It is a way of life, you have to love it as we do. We both trained from college, and that is what we have always done.”
Without any family pressure their daughters have followed them into the business.
Amy is now chef at St Stephen’s Lane, Ipswich, and Katie runs their other commercial kitchen and takeaway branch, in King Street, Ipswich, which opened four years ago.
Jackie is a Londoner and Colin originally from Sussex, and they met while working in David’s Place, a renowned Michelin Star restaurant in Knutsford, Cheshire.
In their Yoxford restaurant they specialised in Mediterranean style food. At Jacey’s you can get various English daily specials from the blackboard changing by season and availability, such as meat and potato pie, stew and dumplings, a macaroni cheese, their own fishcakes, various pasta dishes, scampi and chips.
Colin said they were very pleased to have won the Independent Business of the Year Award. “We have a lot of loyal customers, people who have been coming here for 14 years. They brought their sons and daughters and now they are coming in themselves, now they have grown up.
Jackie: “We have some customers who come in every day, and have their favourite seats. If they don’t get them it is a tragedy.
“We are open seven days a week, and it is manic at lunchtime. “What makes us different? We care about presentation and skill. Anyone can pour a coffee into a mug.
“Ask for a Latte at Jacey’s and you get it served in a glass so that you can see the skill of our barista, your coffee and milk is layered to perfection. A Cappuccino should always be 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 froth with a dusting with chocolate.”
They are great champions for Ipswich too. “We have designed our own website and we are promoting the university town,” Colin added. “We have a wide range of customers. We have families and students, and old people and pensioners. We know a lot of them.
“Everything is home made here, by Jackie and Amy and Tom (Herbert), who we trained. He originally came here on work experience. We have our own house blend of tea, a mix of Assam and English Breakfast, our hot chocolate is Marimbo and Cadbury’s, our coffee is Colombian and we grind our own beans.”
The couple are passionate about developing the business as part of a busy town centre. They added their outside seating area a few years ago as one of the pioneers of Continental cafe culture in town.
Now they plan to expand opening hours for early evening suppers, in November, and they are applying for an alcohol licence too.
“It is expected these days. It is a natural thing to do,” added Jackie, “We have already had a few themed evenings.
“You have to keep moving forward and developing the business.”
“When we opened Jacey’s Coffee House there were only six coffee shops in the town centre, and three of those were ‘in store’ coffee shops.
“Now with the expansion of all the ‘big boys’ there are three times that number. You are never more than three minutes from a cup of coffee.”