Nestled on the bustling Chiswick High Road, Angie’s, an independent cafe and kitchen has become a go-to destination for locals seeking delicious food and a cosy atmosphere. But what’s the story behind this popular spot?
From setting up a cookery school to expanding into a delivery and cafe, we speak with Angie Steele, Owner of Angie’s to discuss her incredible journey, the challenges she faced along the way and the mouth-watering food that has put her cafe on the map.
How Angie’s started
Prior to setting up Angie’s, Angie had worked for eight years with multi-Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s and Jason Atherton at Maze. Alongside this, Angie cooked privately for some of the world’s most recognisable names.
While she thoroughly enjoyed working in the Michelin-starred industry and had an ambition to open her own Michelin-star restaurant, she hung up the fine dining apron and set up a cookery school in Putney.
To promote the cooking lessons, she developed small lunch boxes that she sold for £5 to local businesses in the area. These lunch boxes proved to be a hit and demand quickly grew beyond her expectations. Unfortunately, her cookery school could not keep up with the demand and Angie decided to move her business to her kitchen but soon realised that her kitchen was too small to maintain the business.
With the demand for the lunch boxes growing rapidly, Angie searched for larger premises, which after eight months was shown a run down printing shop. Initially, Angie mentioned she wanted to base the business in Fulham or Parsons Green, as Chiswick seemed too far away, but after having sat outside the shop, counting how many people walked past the store she realised there was a high footfall, and that Chiswick was more well connected than she thought.
By utilising their savings and gaining support from four small investors, she and her husband were able to sign the lease and to save money took on the task of designing and renovating the printing shop into a kitchen and cafe themselves. She recalls the gruelling process of removing around 100 nails from each floorboard, which they did individually every night.
Opening of Angie’s
Angie opened Angie’s in 2013, initially as a delivery business and cookery school in the kitchen downstairs, where the team prepared fresh salads on the premises, and a cafe serving South African coffee, cakes, and salads upstairs. Angie recalls that the cafe had a completely different look at the time, adorned with flowers on every table, art on the walls, and bookshelves filled with South African ceramics for sale.
Angie’s quickly grew in popularity and developed regular customers including The Wasps rugby team who Angie recalled would take over the place relaxing and playing cards after a game or training. She said that once, after searching for Angie online and learning about her background, the team had asked if she could make them scrambled eggs, Eggs Benedict, or avocado on toast, which later inspired Angie to build a brunch menu.
Following this, Angie would ask her customers what dishes they would like to see on the menu and decided to build the menu around them. As the menu expanded, customers fell more in love with the food, and the business evolved into what it is today, a go-to destination café in Chiswick to enjoy breakfast, brunch, or lunch.
As the business grew, many customers asked Angie why she didn’t consider relocating to bigger premises. However, she believed that the smaller size of the cafe created a cosier and more relaxing atmosphere, allowing Angie to focus on providing excellent food and customer service. Even former staff members who have moved on from the cafe have returned to dine and drink, which Angie considers a huge compliment.
From the poaching of an egg to the final garnish, Angie ensures that each plate is presented flawlessly and uses only fresh, healthy, and locally sourced ingredients to create a menu that caters to all dietary requirements, including vegan and gluten-free options.
From classic dishes like Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine to Turkish scrambled eggs on sourdough and fried buttermilk chicken burger, there is a selection of dishes packed full of flavour on the menu. The cafe also offers a daily selection of freshly made salads and delectable cakes or pastries for those craving something sweet.
In the past, the cafe had an expansive meat selection on the menu. However, around six years ago, Angie decided to become more eco-friendly and reduce her carbon footprint. As a result, she limited meat to the delivery business and now only serves turkey and chicken upstairs.
Choosing Suppliers at Angie’s
As an independent business, Angie is passionate about supporting businesses in the community, leading her to partner with local suppliers for her fruit and vegetables and coffee beans.
When deciding who to partner with for their fruit and vegetable supplier, Angie contacted the suppliers she had worked with at Claridge’s, who were already familiar with her high standards and whom she could trust to deliver. Trust and quality were essential in this decision because due to not having a large enough fridge to store food overnight in the kitchen, Angie requires a fruit and vegetable delivery every morning, ready for her team to prep for the day’s orders. Since hiring them, she has not changed them.
Lessons from Angie’s City Business
With Angie’s becoming a successful business, Angie was approached by a customer and they decided to open a grab and go business in the City called Alfs. The model was based on a Pret A Manger style business, but with Angie’s salads as the core product offering. The business had a big production team producing individual salad boxes, which they sold to city workers from their Bank store.
Unfortunately, due to several circumstances, the business closed just before the Covid pandemic, which Angie said looking back was the best decision.
While Angie was upset about how the business ended, she said “it’s incredible how much failure teaches you, and what it makes you realise and appreciate.” Even though she said it was difficult to swallow at the time, Angie said it made her realise how proud she was of the business in Chiswick and to focus on that instead.
The Challenge Covid Brought to Angie’s
With businesses closed and most people working from home, orders for deliveries stopped and the cafe was forced to close down resulting in the business’ source of income grounding to a halt.
Angie tried to adapt by selling fruit and vegetable boxes, but the business was slow. At one point she remembered that she only made £77 one day, which she knew was not enough to keep the business afloat.
With a team of 18 relying on Angie for income and rent to pay, Angie felt the pressure and said ‘it was a scary time especially after having to close the business in the city six months beforehand. I was thinking at the time am I going to lose this one too?’
After speaking with a few locals about her predicament, Angie expressed her concerns about the future of her business. The next morning, she said she couldn’t believe how many orders she received, ‘the phone was ringing non-stop’.
It was an incredible act of kindness from the community that I will never forget. People even gave me money to help pay my staff and just said that they wanted to support local businesses and don’t want me to close the business.Angie Steele, Owner of Angie’s
Angie was overwhelmed by the support she received from the Chiswick community and thanks to their generosity, was able to pay the rent and all her staff, for which she cannot thank them enough.
As lockdown restrictions eased, Angie saw an opportunity to welcome her customers back and reopen for take away coffees and salad boxes, which eventually led to her being able to fully reopen.
Prior to the pandemic, Angie’s delivery business primarily served businesses such as fashion agencies, banks, and hedgefund companies, offering meat platters, fish platters, sandwich platters, salad platters, and even dessert platters.
Following lockdown, Angie decided to expand to residential deliveries, delivering freshly prepared food, whether that be salads, desserts or canopes for a range of occasions including family gatherings, dinner parties, birthdays, christenings and even weddings.
After obtaining an alcohol license two years ago, Angie expanded the drinks menu to include wine and cocktails and decided to extend the opening hours until 6 pm everyday where they serve their full menu as well as their cocktail menu
With several restaurants opening late in the area, Angie has noticed an increase in activity in the area in the evenings, alongside the number of customers visiting for post-work drinks or pre-drinks before heading out for dinner at the nearby restaurants.
Alongside the opening of several restaurants, The Chiswick Cinema, Parle Pantry and My Place have also joined the community, which Angie said has driven more people to the area and transformed it into a more vibrant place.
Renting Angie’s for Parties
Throughout November and December people can hire the shop to host parties and Christmas parties from 6 pm – 11 pm with a maximum of 45 people where the team will serve a Christmas canape menu.
For those interested in hiring Angie’s for a party, please email to enquire about this.
Living in West London
While Angie never imagined herself working in Chiswick and living in Shepherd’s Bush, since moving, she said everything has fallen into place, and the community has welcomed her with open arms.
Having fallen in love with the neighbourhood, Angie has signed the lease for Angie’s for another six years and with that has undergone a new renovation transforming the space into an even cosier and more inviting place to eat, drink, and relax.
To find out more about Angie’s or to place an order, please visit the website here.