Article by Clare Youell: The owners of a popular Chelmsford coffee shop have opened up a second branch in Billericay - and it’s one of the best-looking places around to have brunch or lunch.
Queenies has just launched in the High Street and you can’t miss it - the name is written in lights and gives you a taster of what’s inside.
The second branch of the coffee shop has been done up with social media in mind. There’s even an Instagram wall.
Of course, what really matters in any place to eat is the food, but it’s worth taking time to drink in the gorgeous decor.
The tables are studded metal and the chairs are done out in trendy shades of soft velvet.
Towards the back of the coffee shop there are large, cerise, crushed velvet curtains, which give you a generous peek of the tropical-inspired plant wall, complete with This Must be the Place written in neon pink lights - the perfect Instagram moment.
Owner Ruby Mitchell has come up with a novel way of advertising the specials - they’re written on a huge roll of brown paper that gets ripped off every time they change.
All visitors need to check out the toilets too - they are so good you can’t not have a peek. When you open the first door, you’ll see a huge gilt-edged mirror and two beautiful free-standing gold sinks.
The ceiling of the wash area and the toilet itself are covered with jaw-dropping pink and white flamingo wallpaper.
They are certainly a contender for the best loos in Essex.
But of course what people really come to Queenies for is the food - and here they have an excellent reputation.
“Absolutely everything is made fresh to order,”
Ruby told Essex Live.
“The quality of our food is impeccable. We use all independent bakeries and greengrocers. We basically want to serve the best fresh food and coffee around. The food needs to be perfect every time,” she said. “You only get one chance to make a first impression. People are paying for it, it has to be just right. There are chains that started off with all fresh food and then that changed as they got bigger. Whether we have one branch or 100, we would never change. Most of our success is down to the quality of our food. You’re only as good as your last dish.”
By launching the Billericay branch, Ruby has spread the word about the Queenies brand and what it stands for to a new audience - although plenty of her loyal Chelmsford customers have popped in to support them too.
Ruby, who used to to live abroad, decided to go into the cafe business when she lived in Australia. The Chelmsford cafe has now been open for nearly five years and it’s gone from strength to strength.
“Australia has a massive, independent coffee shop culture,” Ruby said. “A lot of Australians would rather go to an independent than a huge chain. We wanted to bring what they have over here. We want to offer something a bit different, a bit quirky and above all, the quality of fresh food and great coffee.”
Ruby even has her own blend of Queenies coffee which she developed with an independent rosterie and she is very proud of it.
Popular dishes on the menu include smashed avocado (freshly made of course) and their famous salt beef sandwiches (the beef is sourced from the same company as Harrods and takes eight hours to perfect). They even make their own baked beans from scratch.
When Ruby decided to open a second branch, nearby Billericay was the best choice for her and her brand. It took four months to transform it into the modern eaterie it is now, with a new, outside seating area.
Ruby is launching an app to coincide with the new branch too - on it customers will be able to view the menu, book a table, watch a vlog and check out specials and new dishes.
She is completely committed to the business - Ruby starts work at 5am every day, and works seven days a week.
“You have to be committed,” Ruby explained. “You can’t work 9-5 in this business and expect it to work. I am really passionate about what we do here, as are all the staff. We always say hello to people and offer the best customer service. There’s nothing worse than walking into a shop or cafe and being ignored. We try to be the best at what we do.”
Queenies is at 127 High Street, Billericay.
Article by Clare Youell, EssexLive