Designer hotshots breathe new life into local favourite
Natty cafe shop is back as inspired new owners inject revamp with a splash of creative passion
Harpers, one of Maidstone’s best loved eateries, is set to return to the town later this month.
New owners, husband and wife team Claudine and Nick Bedford, saw their new signage painted on the shop front in Market Gardens this week.
They are keeping the cafe and gift shop mix, and have carried out an extensive refurbishment, with a new floor and longer serving counter.
There is also a customer toilet and baby-change area, a development Mrs Bedford said was particularly important for shoppers.
Seating will be reduced from 45 to 30 covers, but Mrs Bedford said: “This means we will be rich in space – and there will be plenty of room for mums to come in with pushchairs.”
Harpers will be the couple’s first venture in catering. Mrs Bedford has a degree in fashion design and previously worked as head of design at De Baer Corporate Clothing.
After taking time off to look after their first child, she retrained as a primary school teacher, and worked at Palace Wood Primary School until July.
Mr Bedford started his career in commercials and pop video production. He then moved into digital effects production on movies, and worked on titles such as Casino Royale, Tomb Raider and The Golden Compass.
Mrs Bedford said: “We visited the old Harpers on many occasions. It was a favourite spot for our family. When it came up for sale, we jumped at the chance. With my love of design and my husband’s love of coffee and cooking it is the perfect combination for us.
“We are so excited to take the Harpers brand forward and to continue to serve high quality, homemade food.”
The couple intend to stock a range of homeware and gifts, from crockery to interior accessories and everyday items.
They will both work in the cafe and employ one full-time staff member, two part-timers and four Saturday staff.
Harpers first opened in 2007. Its last owner, Frank Goodhind, called it a day in May this year.
Harpers before being taken over for rebranding