Lauren Ritchie has been out visiting Glasgow social enterprise cafés for #SocEntSummer and here's her top five recommendations - check out pictures of Lauren and some of the people she met on Instagram
1. The Project Cafe, Renfrew Street
The Project Café is in the heart of the city and captures the cool, creative vibe of Glasgow. Alongside an ethical Papercup coffee, you can enjoy the lively vegetarian menu that changes daily. One of their imaginative salads is a must when visiting. Everything in the cafe is made from scratch, using local and fairly traded ingredients, and it aims to bring the community together with honest, good food. The cafe is also used to exhibit the work of local artists, for poetry readings, music events and workshops. Passionate about food waste management, it applies permaculture ethics, so any unused food is recycled as compost or given away free to staff, customers or those who need it.
2. Social Bite, St Vincent Street and Bothwell Street
Social Bite has made huge strides in the social enterprise movement, creating a popular social enterprise café chain. All profits of the chain go to charity and one in four of their hardworking team has previously struggled with homelessness. If you can see past the busy Glasgow workers picking up their lunches, the green walls of the bright café are surrounded by positive news stories highlighting what Social Bite has achieved, and inspiring stories of former homeless people who the café chain has employed. Next to the counter of smiley, friendly staff is a board listing the amount of money Social Bite has raised for charity and the amount of money available in “suspended coffee and food”. This is where customers pay in advance for a coffee or meal which a local homeless person can come in and claim for free. The coffee at Social Bite is freshly roasted and fair trade and its more than just sandwiches menu includes rich stews and tangy Hong Kong pork, all designed by Michelin-starred chef Mike Matheson.
3. The Milk Café, Southside
The Milk Café is new to the Glasgow social enterprise scene but has already made a huge difference in its work. The warm, chatty staff welcome you to the pretty, homely café, which is decorated with a mishmash of furniture. Enjoy one of their artisan coffees in a lovely, vintage tea cup accommpanied by one of a wide array of cakes baked from scratch or perhaps a locally produced lunch. The Milk Café is designed to be a central hub for the community of refugee women in Glasgow; it is a safe place for women, where they can receive support in a relaxed atmosphere and enjoy creative events such as pottery classes. Anyone can be a volunteer and it gives people the opportunity to learn cookery skills, improve their English and build self-esteem. The café, which is open to the public, also aims to educate to the local community about some of the struggles refugees coming to Scotland face.
4. Spoon, Trongate
Step into to the past at Spoon café, the café has a 1950’s atmosphere with vintage posters, homely seating and Elvis Presley makes an appearance or two in the décor. Your fair-trade coffee is served with a wide smile and all the food is made from fresh and sustainable ingredients. Spoon’s volunteers are individuals with learning disabilities or social disadvantages. Visiting Spoon or ordering from their catering service means you are supporting Unity Enterprise, a Scottish inter-church charity that provides a range of services that enrich the lives of young people and adults experiencing disabilities and/or social disadvantages through social events and training for employment.
5. Glad Café, Pollokshaws Road
Shawlands is habitually described as “up and coming” but one visit to the Glad Café on Pollokshaws Road and you’ll know you’ve arrived. “The staff are always cheery, the food excellent and they offer a decent pint,” says Teri Lancombe, one its regulars. The Glad, as locals refer to it, sits on the site of a former bakery, and in homage, the popular eatery still serves one of its most famous staples – the Crossmyloaf, a must for first timers. It’s much more than its menu however: this community interest company (CIC) is also a happening hub, with space at the back for gigs and events showcasing local talent. Author Alan Bissett and Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake are just two of its high-profile patrons.
Did we miss you?
Have you read our Cafés with a Conscience Edinburgh list yet? Look out for our best of the rest list, which will highlight some of the cool cafés outside of Scotland’s two biggest cities later in the summer. If you’re a Glasgow social enterprise cafe and you’re disappointed you didn’t make the list, why post a picture on Instagram, Twitter and Facebookusing #SocEntSummer and see if you get a mention in our weekly Best #SocEntSummer Social Media Posts, which will be published our print publication.