Julie & Kevin

Hertfordshire Life - - RELATIONSHIPS -

Own­ers of St Al­bans’ Ge­orge Street Can­teen since it opened in Jan­uary 2016, Julie and Kevin Lee have won nu­mer­ous awards for their fam­ily and dog-friendly café with its sus­tain­able and lo­cal food, court­yard, and unique view of the cathe­dral. They have two chil­dren, Ruby and Jake, and be­fore start­ing the busi­ness they had both worked to­gether in hos­pi­tal­ity. Kevin is the chef and Julie is front of house.

‘We both worked so hard for other peo­ple that it seemed crazy not to try and have our own busi­ness,’ Julie ex­plains. ‘We thought that when the kids were older we could per­haps move and open some­where by the sea, but then this place came up. We are lucky be­cause we man­age to bal­ance things out be­tween us. I can’t cook at all and Kevin would be aw­ful on the floor. Be­fore we started I don’t think we re­alised how much pa­per­work and be­hind the scenes stuff there is to do. We couldn’t do it with­out my mum and Kevin’s mum. They both help with look­ing af­ter the chil­dren and my mum has the dog as well. Kevin’s mum helps with the accounts. Since we started the café we’ve def­i­nitely be­come more un­der­stand­ing of each other. I think we ar­gue less now. Kevin says laugh­ing: ‘We ar­gue all the time but I’m good at get­ting over it!’ He adds, ‘I would rather say some­thing there and then. We’ve worked to­gether be­fore so Julie knew what I was like. It can be hard. We do try to switch off at home. I tend to bring up stuff from work more than Julie does and she says, “I don’t want to talk about it now.” ‘We’ve been to­gether for 18 years and Julie’s prob­a­bly only ever cooked five meals

‘We both worked so hard for other peo­ple that it seemed crazy not to try and have our own busi­ness’

and they’ve been the same five things. But she’s good with peo­ple and I’m not. There are a lot of things about run­ning your own busi­ness that I didn’t know about that are harder than I thought they would be – giv­ing all the VAT money away and the gen­eral re­pair of the place. Orig­i­nally we just wanted it to be a nice lit­tle café with a cou­ple of peo­ple com­ing in for a cup of tea. But it’s got more pop­u­lar and we’ve got lots of ideas. We’re now do­ing hog roasts and we’re go­ing to have a pizza oven and start do­ing cock­tail nights. Our son Jake is 11 and he’s al­ready talk­ing about tak­ing over the busi­ness.’

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