Descend the stairs into the basement of this iconic grade listed building and you’ll find Baby E; rustic exposed brick, towering ceilings, industrial-style beams and cellar windows that offer a snapshot into the lively and diligent business community of Liverpool’s Commercial District.
From living in London’s Bermondsey to Australia’s Melbourne, elements of Owner & Chef Lauren Clinton’s travels are visible in every aspect of Baby E Coffee & Deli. With the innovative branding and interior, the alternative menu and the overall vibe of this cool and quirky eatery, you could be anywhere.
So, what exactly is Baby E? It’s a bustling coffee and deli that serves all-day brunch and transforms into an intimate deli bar of an evening, proclaiming ‘good food and good vibes’ as it’s mantra. It’s one of those rare places that gracefully metamorphoses from morning to evening, and a place where both eggs benedict and coffee or wine and jazz are equally apt.
Like most entrepreneurs, Lauren has quite the story to tell. Completing her Business Management degree, she packed up and moved to Melbourne working in coffee shops and kitchens and simultaneously discovering where her real talent lay: “I was lucky enough to work with owners who let me design specials menus and introduce new tastes and flavours. It was in Australia where I realised my passion and knew that working in the food industry is what I have to be doing.”
Lauren moved back to her hometown and used her degree to begin a career in finance in order to fund her long-term ambition of owning and running, alongside her partner Chris, an eatery in Liverpool. Working in the iconic Liver Building, she meticulously analysed people’s lunchtime rituals (where they were eating, what they ate, how much they were willing to spend) to shape her eventual food offering and brand.
For nine months, Lauren weighed up venues on Castle Street, Wood Street and Bold Street realising the battle she was up against in burgeoning business rates for premises across Liverpool City Centre. It was only when walking home from work she came across a vacant space in grade listed The Temple building on Dale Street: “I spotted this venue by chance and straight off the bat I wanted it and knew it had to be mine. We pursued it and here we are.”
Late 2016, Lauren began working with Senior Business Adviser at The Women’s Organisation, Claire Pedersen, to get her business idea off the ground. The doors to Baby E officially opened in June this year, operated by Lauren and her partner Chris, as well as a small but extremely talented team of five: “the support from The Women’s Organisation was unbelievable. It was so helpful to bounce ideas back and forth to my business adviser, as she had worked with other aspiring and established food businesses and knew industry trends, what works and what doesn’t.”
A fervent lover of quality homemade food, Lauren tries to push the boundaries of her menu by putting a unique spin dishes. She has been inspired by delis and the nature of customers ‘picking and choosing’ what they want to eat. Baby E prides itself on serving, where possible, locally-sourced fresh ingredients delivered daily, meaning the menu will adapt to seasonally. Current menu customer favourites include: bangers & hash, shakshuka baked eggs, fluffy pancakes and pesto potatoes. Having travelled far and wide to find the right bean, Baby E also offers specialty sourced coffee from HasBean of Manchester and Lauren has invested time into training her baristas.
Lauren’s business idea evolved once she secured her premises: “the initial idea was a coffee shop that served all day brunch but when we took on a space of this calibre, I thought it would be a sin to shut the doors at 5pm. The idea of a deli and wine bar was born out of the nature of the premises”.
Baby E now caters to evening-socialisers offering a small but fine selection of wine, gin or beer to be enjoyed alongside a cheese board. Lauren and Chris are connoisseurs who have carefully selected a white and red wine to pair fantastically with the cheese and meat on offer. Now, having expanded to host live music including jazz nights, corporate bookings and offer an online ordering system, Lauren credits the company’s ‘openness to opportunities’ as her recipe for success.
With a degree in business management and a burning passion for homemade, hearty food, setting up her own food business was a venture surely written in the stars. As the business develops and grows, Lauren hasn’t lost sight of the reason she started out and her love of cooking: “I’m a business-owner, but my day-to-day role is a chef in the kitchen – it’s where I love to be.Being your own boss is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m so proud of what me and my team have achieved. The best feeling is to go home every night knowing I’ve cooked and served people food they’ve enjoyed”.
Lauren is already looking to the future and, in the next two years, hopes to have a second venue in the pipeline. Her advice to aspiring-entrepreneurs? Lauren said: “You’re a fool if you go into a business thinking you know everything. I think it’s important to know your strong points, but also know your weaker points and get advice and support from Enterprise Hub to fill in those gaps.”
To find out more about Baby E, head to their website or follow them on Instagram.
And if you’d like to find out more about how our team can help you to start a business through our Enterprise Hub programme then call us on 0151 706 8111.