Bready or not! Brand new artisan bakery opens in St Neots following crowdfunding success

After successfully raising over £15,000 through crowdfunding last year, a St Neots-based cafe and restaurant has opened the doors to its brand new artisan bakery and baking school in the town. 

Elsie May’s Electric Lounge Café, Bar & Bakery, located in St Neots’ Market Square has begun to welcome customers to the newly-established bakery after it collected over £17,000 in donations from 300-plus different backers to make the transformation happen. 

The funds that were generously pledged and donated helped Naomi Rose, owner of Elsie May’s Electric Lounge, to purchase essential equipment such as mixers, sinks, ovens and extraction units and cover installation and contracting work to make the building’s annexe fit for purpose. 

The new bakery features a wide range of homemade sourdoughs, focaccia, granary breads and pastries, alongside homemade cakes and scones, providing the local community with access to local, fresh and tasty products. 

Speaking at the bakery’s launch event, Naomi said:

“Our local community is so important to us and we’re so grateful for the generosity that has been shown to us throughout this process. We really want to make this bakery a place that people can be proud of, right on their doorstep. 

“The past 18 months have been difficult for everyone, both for businesses and individuals, and we are really hopeful that the new bakery at the start of a new year is a fresh start and lift for everyone.

“It’s certainly been a labour of love, albeit a little stressful at times, to get the bakery up and running and we are just delighted to welcome all our friends, families and the wonderful people of St Neots down to try some of our new bakes. We’ve been testing, trialling, and perfecting our recipes during the past few months so I’m sure people will love it!”

An interview with the owner… 

Background behind the bakery… 

I always wanted to work for myself, although I never imagined I’d own a café, bar & now bakery. Prior to opening Elsie May’s, I used to work in an office heading up a digital team. I needed a challenge, and the opportunity came about when we discovered the building we’re in now. It’s in my local town and was formerly a nightclub which was left disused for over 12 years. What we hadn’t realised was that it was originally built in 1929 for the Beds, Hunts & Cambs Electricity Company Showrooms and underneath the decor of the former nightclub was all this incredible 1920s original architecture.  

It was the perfect spot for a café and that’s when the idea was born. We wanted to honour the history of the building in our name, hence the Electric Lounge’, but the business is also named after my grandmother, Elsie May, who taught me how to bake. 

Why go down the Crowdfunding route? 

Like many businesses in the hospitality industry, the last couple of years have been a challenge. We didn’t have the capital to fully fund the bakery ourselves, but it was an idea we were really passionate about and we felt our town would benefit from having a bakery. 

The Kickstarter was a really good way to tell if the community did want a bakery as much as we did, and the support was absolutely incredible – we were completely overwhelmed by the response and we’re absolutely delighted that we have been able to bring a bakery and baking school to our town of St Neots. 

What atmosphere can people expect when visiting? 

We’re very relaxed and friendly at Elsie May’s – it great place to come on your own or to meet friends for a coffee or cocktail or two on a Friday or Saturday night. We‘re also dog friendly so it’s perfect for a mid-dog walk refreshment! 

What’s next? 

We’re really looking forward to launching the bakery school (both online and offline) in the spring as well as our scone club which we will hopefully be able to deliver nationally! 

Important advice you would give to others starting out in the industry? 

Do your planning and research first – speak to other local business owners as in my experience they are very helpful! Also make sure you do the maths and allow yourself enough cash flow as everything is usually more expensive than you first think. 

Name your food heroes… 

There are so many – you should see how many recipe books I have at home. Some of my favourites are Yotam Ottolenghi, Mary Berry and Sourdough Sophia  

What does your perfect afternoon tea feature? 

For me afternoon tea is all about the scones! A fruit scone with clotted cream and jam, and I also love a cheese scone. I’m a big fan of a themed afternoon tea too – one of my favourites was Charlie & the Chocolate Factory themed. 

Favourite tipple? 

I probably drink earl grey tea and coffee the most but I’m also partial to a Bailey’s.

Sum up Elsie May’s in three words… 

Innovative, homemade and friendly! 

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