Café retail design – smallest coffee shop in Birmingham opens in phone box

10th August 2015

Last week we wrote about ‘Pittsburgh’s smallest jazz club’ which has been set up in a bus shelter to promote the US city’s rich cultural heritage… This week we’re a bit closer to home and checking out some small-scale café retail design, with a look at ‘Birmingham’s smallest coffee shop’ which opened in a phone box, last week in the city’s Eden Place.

Jake Hollier outside his new enterprise

The original idea for repurposing the phone box came from a charitable trust called ‘Thinking Outside The Box’ who gained planning permission to turn some of the city’s disused phone booths into kiosks – and ‘Jake’s Coffee Box’ is the first business to take advantage of this scheme, renting the phone box from the charity and setting up shop inside.

Business owner Jake Hollier, a 23-year-old former healthcare assistant at City Hospital, told BBC News that the business idea had taken six months to realise:

“I wanted to bring something different to the city. The red boxes are iconic to our image as Brits.

“I’ve got a coffee machine and some sausage rolls. There is nowhere to sit in the telephone box. All my customers are going to be commuters.”

pop up cafe in a phone box

Jake reported reasonable success on his first day of business, with around 20 customers in the first two hours. He is hoping to build up some customer loyalty from the commuters who will pass the phone booth every day – once they become accustomed to the concept of course – as Jake has indicated that for some people, the idea might take some getting used to:

“Everyone seems to look really oddly at me.”

Although new to Birmingham, this isn’t the first project of it’s kind for ‘Thinking Outside The Box’ who have already successfully facilitated two similar projects in Brighton – where two disused phone boxes at the Pavilion Gardens were repurposed for selling coffee and ice cream.

We think this is a great way to keep some of our iconic heritage, without leaving it to ruin – and if Jake’s Coffee Box is successful, then here’s hoping we see other similar projects throughout the UK.


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