Hoxton North - Harrogate
When we set out on our Little Less Known adventure we had aims of discovering the unknown independent places outside of London. In the East End of London especially, there is a well established community celebrating independent shops, cafes, restaurants and craft-workers. Many of the people we've met on our short journey so far have talked about how friends and colleagues move down to London from wherever they've been based before. But the feature in this blog has done the polar opposite.
Hoxton North describes itself as a "London-inspired lifestyle brand." Timothy and Vicky Bosworth are originally from Harrogate in North Yorkshire but moved down to London in order to work. They were exposed to London's unique culture and more specifically the East End, around Shoreditch and Hoxton. After at least 10 years in the capital, the couple made the conscious decision to move back up to their hometown. But instead of finding jobs in the areas they had both been working in for years decided to start afresh and do something neither of them had done before.
Quite simply Hoxton North (HN) gets it's name because Vicky and Timothy have taken all that they loved about Hoxton and moved it North, even down to a London Underground map hanging on the wall. To describe Hoxton North as just an espresso bar/coffee shop wouldn't do it justice. In fact, there are many strings to the HN bow. However let's concentrate on the coffee side of things to begin with. The first stage of the brand begins with the espresso bar, serving speciality coffee.
All their coffee comes from London based coffee roasters. Popular features are Nude Espresso, Origin Coffee and Volcano Coffee Works. Although there are many roasters closer to home it's all about bringing the tastes of London up North. London inspired artwork can also be seen throughout the space. The openness to all customers new and old is another trait the couple have brought North. Not that Yorkshire folk are unfriendly in the slightest but HN has developed what it calls the "Hi Guys" principle. This means that no matter who you are or what you do, every visitor will be greeted with a friendly "hi!". Far from a throwaway, outdated, 1980's customer service-like idea that a million corporate companies still seem to use today, the team genuinely enjoy the company of everyone who walks through their door and welcome them with conversation and the offer of a beverage.
Hoxton North's ethos is to "connect and share stories." Timothy and Vicky have created a space that enables people from all walks of life to come and relax, work, play, chat, listen to music and use the space for their own purpose. You bring the activity and they'll supply the drink. One thing we were struck by when filming was Tim's suggestion that we get some shots of people on their phones. He doesn't see it as an anti-social activity, but more a way of tuning into the world around us. If a group of friends are sat on their phones on Facebook and one of them sees an interesting article, a funny image or a video, they show their friends. They are sharing a story and connecting with the wider world. We witnessed meetings, catch ups and people grabbing a take-away coffee, facilitated by a team who are always looking for a natter rather than letting you wait in awkward silence. We all connect with things differently and we all have stories to share. Hoxton North are just providing us with a space to do this.
Phase 2 of the brand is an evening wine and champagne bar. The lights dim down at about 5pm, the coffee machine gets quieter (but stays on for any late night caffeine fiends) and the wine bottles are opened. Fortunately, the music playlist continues through the evening transition, adding to the relaxed ambience of the space. Don't worry about having to shout over chart remixes here. Sticking to the ethos, the wine bar is about winding down after a long day over a glass or two of wine (If you're looking to get slashed, there's a Wetherspoon's across the road for that!). It essentially becomes a chilled space where you can relax into the evening with friends or colleagues and put the day behind you. The menu isn't made to confuse, it is simply one sheet of A4 with a couple of reds, white and roses and some champagnes. The interesting thing about the menu is that almost all of the wines featured are from small independent growers. You won't find your typical supermarket brands here, but the quality and taste is faultless. If you know what you like tell the team and they'll sort you out with the right wine for you. They won't boggle your mind with fancy words and poncy descriptions but tell you exactly what the wine is like, that's all we actually want to know isn't it? And if beer is more your thing then there are plenty of independently brewed beers to try too.
We have been told about some future plans for Hoxton North but they are far too exciting for us to share and ruin the surprise. All we can say is watch this space. If you're ever over in Harrogate and don't fancy the traditional tea rooms the ever friendly team at Hoxton North are waiting for you to come and say "hi!".