Bossa is Leicester’s first Café Bar – a unique all-day venue where you can go for a coffee in the morning, have a light lunch during the day and then enjoy a few beers or cocktails at night.
Inspired by European culture, particularly Italy and Spain where these sorts of establishments aren’t so rare, Gareth Hazard reopened Bossa as a Café Bar 18 months ago with help from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity.
Before setting up his own business Gareth worked for a chain of pubs in Leicester – he simultaneously managed two bars and a nightclub then following that he worked as a store manager at a Café Nero.
Gareth explained how the opportunity to run his own business presented itself: “I was actually sat outside Bossa one day before we took over and I was thinking this would make a really good all-day café with cocktails at night.
“I wanted to open a real Café Bar – good coffee, good beers, good quality spirits and a really good customer service experience.
“It just so happened that one day the owner of Bossa was sat outside with us having a coffee and he was telling us that he was actually selling the building. I was distraught because I loved Bossa. I thought, ‘I wonder if I can take on this place and run it?’”
Gareth knew he couldn’t afford to buy the property, but after some discussion the owner agreed to rent the whole of the building to him.
When Gareth went to banks for help with money he struggled to find the sort of funding he needed. He would have had to pay staggering interest on any loan and also match any capital that he was provided. This simply wasn’t viable for him and there was no way he could even stump up half of the money he needed to get up and running.
That’s where we came in. Gareth spoke to local business man Barrie Stephen’s, who set up his salons with the help of the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity, who recommended he get in touch with us. After initially pitching to our board of trustees Gareth borrowed £6,000 and then after presenting to them a second time to he borrowed £15,000 from us and he found Sir Thomas White a lot easier to deal with than the banks had been.
However, the best thing about being involved with us according to Gareth wasn’t the money it provided him, although that certainly helped, but instead it’s the group of people and other businesses he has met through working with us.
Gareth said: “I think the great thing about Sir Thomas white is the circle of people that it connects you with.
“It’s great when you get talking to other people who have opened their business through Sir Thomas White – it’s a really good connection to have.”
For example all of the coffee at Bossa is supplied by St. Martin’s Coffee: another Leicester based business that received support from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity.
Gareth oozes enthusiasm when he talks about Bossa and his plans for the future, and he clearly thrives off for running his own business. When asked why he loves being his own boss Gareth said: “I always tell people that if you’re creative, if you’re energetic and you don’t like doing what you’re told – then you need to work for yourself.
“Although I loved the opportunities the pub company gave me and Nero gave me a great corporate background I hated that Monday morning phone call with the area manager talking through figures.
“Running your own business is still stressful but it’s a different kind of stress. You feel like if you’re going to go in and do overtime you’re not begrudging it because it’s going to benefir your own business and at the end of the day the money you make that day is going into your own pocket and you feel like you’ve worked very hard for your baby.
“I much prefer working for myself I think I’d really struggle to go back and work for a big company.”
Something that is really important to Gareth is supporting the local community. Bossa host networking evenings, hold entrepreneur nights and Gareth also works with Leicester College as a business mentor as well as doing guest speaking at De Montfort University. In addition to this community work, where possible Gareth sources products from local suppliers and supports other businesses in the Leicestershire area as much as he can.
Now, after just a year and a half, Gareth has broken even and he’s already looking to expand. He recently heard about some premises in Leicester becoming available that fit his vision perfectly. Similarly to Bossa the new place will be open all day, serving quality products day and night – but the exciting difference is that it will be three times the size of the existing Café Bar.
Most new business owners would still be struggling with hefty debts after such a short time, but with our help Gareth isn’t just keeping afloat, he’s making real headway.
Click here to visit the Bossa website for more information on the Café Bar. Bossa is based at 110, Granby Street, Leicester and is open 7 days a week.
Thinking of applying for a loan from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity? Gareth’s biggest piece of advice would be: “You can never go into too much detail. I know that lots of people have applied to Sir Thomas white and have not been up to scratch with their financials, their marketing or their back-up plans. You have to do these things.”
For more information on our business loans click here.