Caffeine & Machine, winner of this year’s Autocar Award for Innovation, is based on an idea that its founders admit to be very simple.
“What people are saying,” says Dan Macken, who with Phil McGovern opened C&M in a derelict roadside pub in Warwickshire in late 2018, “is that they can’t believe someone isn’t didn’t do that years ago.”
However, if you’re inclined to call C&M just a roadside cafe, you’re wrong. It started like that, but it kept expanding for three and a half years to become a real cultural center for car and bike lovers that can accommodate 500 people and more than 200 cars at a time.
It is open 24 hours a day and needs around 90 employees, as they work in three shifts on the busiest days. Set in 12 acres of sparsely landscaped woodland, C&M is now a welcoming cafe, bar and restaurant, bed and breakfast, clothing and gift shop, art gallery and ever-changing car show evolution.
Attendance must be chargeable at peak times, but the founders are determined to build a reputation for welcoming everyone. Macken and McGovern met in Dubai in 2015 when launching a start-up for a major British conglomerate. McGovern had previously worked in cars and ran his own media companies, discovering along the way that if you wanted to attract people to an event, one way was to invite their cars.
Do it right and everyone wanted to come: truckers, bikers, Ferrari owners, drifting enthusiasts and even a group of female supercar owners called the Arabian Gazelles. An event in Dubai, labeled Caffeine & Machine, attracted 1,500 people. McGovern says he had had a desire to open a car-based cafe for years. When he found a like-minded friend and potential business partner at Macken, the idea took off.
“We talked a lot about this special event in Dubai, seeing it as the basis of a business,” says McGovern. “We became convinced that it could work.”
The Dubai start-up declined and both had reasons to return to the UK. They decided their next step would be to try the coffee idea. While scouting for premises, a chance conversation with a relative publican alerted McGovern to the potential of disused pubs. An internet search revealed dozens, including the then muddy and undeveloped Ettington place.
By February 2018 they had taken possession of it, and after a 10-month restoration of every wall, floor and ceiling, it opened in November. C&M has grown at breakneck speed. The license is granted, the restaurant expands, accommodations open and the gallery and clothing aspects prosper. Some customers continue to take the idea for granted, but rivals are conspicuous by their absence.
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This notice was published: 2022-05-10 21:31:23