When a Café opens up around the corner that shares it’s name with your newspaper, you have to go and investigate…
After acquiring the locally listed building dating back to 1897, Ranjit Singh looked at letting out the small corner space at the end of the old victorian bakehouse. Potential tenant’s suggested various ways of using the space, including a takeaway, but seeing its potential and being located in such a historic part of Leicester, Ranjit took it upon himself to turn the space into a family business with sandwiches and juice for the kids and even beers and wines for the adults.
During our chat, Ranjit mentions his love for both coffee and beer and how he wanted to combine the two into what is now known as Great Central Cafe and Bar. Although city centre based, it is in the middle of an industrial estate – not the most obvious location – but Ranjit says he has “come to learn that it is in a prime renovation area, know as the ‘waterside regeneration development’”. The opening of the cafe foreshadows many plans including two hotels, an office block and several retail units soon to join the area. All of this sits opposite the historic Great Central Station, once the city’s main railway terminus, which sent off it’s last steam train in 1969 – so you could say it’s long overdue a makeover.
Ranjit was inspired by the railway for the interior of the coffee shop, which includes a feature wall with pictures of the old railway station in it’s prime. He says “The objective was to design something that respects the local area and its history”. Ranjit also has the future in mind as he talks about menu changes and naming the panini’s after famous trains, such as the flying scotsman, the orient express or the mallard. He even talked about a kids menu featuring the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich being named Thomas the Tank Engine. The theme of the railway is really key in making this place unique from other independent coffee shops popping up over Leicester.
With some unusual beers, both on tap and bottled, you won’t be too far from the ever growing craft beer culture in Leicester. As far as independent coffee shops go, you cant go too wrong with a decent pint of beer! As for the food, Great Central Cafe and Bar serves your typical coffee shop staples, such as panini’s and there’s also some light bites, such as samosas and spring rolls thrown in the mix too. There is also a good selection of cakes and treats for those of you with a sweet tooth.
There’s a real cosy feel to the small cafe, but as Ranjit says he tries to make it a ‘family feel’. He employs tenants from the flats he rents out in the other part of the building and this really adds to the concept of Great Central being a family. As for the future, along with the menu changes, Ranjit may be looking at potential extension as the area grows both in size and in popularity.
Find Great Central Cafe Bar at 17 Great Central Street.