Banbury area woman turns Covid furlough experience into new business venture

Ellie Harper, owner of the Adderbury business – Harper’s Coffee House – stands with staff members Bo and Grace.

Ellie Harper, 27, has worked in the hospitality industry for years but due to the Covid-19 pandemic she was put on furlough last year. She used her leave experience to look to the future. Instead of waiting to see what happens next, she gave her opinion and started her own business – Harper’s Coffee House.

She said, “A bad situation for a lot of people turned into a good one for me. I’m very grateful for the last year, to be honest.”

After just over four months of operating in the village of Adderbury near Banbury, it launched its second menu, the winter seasonal menu, and expanded to the first floor of the building. She opened a space on the first floor this week on Monday, November 1, which offers people a quiet space to read a book or work on a laptop with free wifi.

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Harper’s Coffee House has recently opened in the center of the village of Adderbury

Ellie sources her cakes and coffee locally in Oxfordshire. Its freshly baked cakes, most of which include a variety of vegan and gluten-free options, come from Swerford-based Cotswold Baking. Ellie sources her coffee from Ue Coffee Roasters Ltd – based in Witney.

Harper’s Coffee House also offers freshly prepared meals with a light breakfast menu and a full lunch menu.

The breakfast menu includes bacon, sausage and/or egg bun (vegan options available) served from 8:30am to 10:30am.

The lunch menu offers a variety of options from paninis and sandwiches to baguettes, toast and sausages.

The featured menu item of a honey roast ham and brie baguette layered with fig and honey chutney available at Harper’s Coffee House in Adderbury

Ellie has also just launched her winter menu from Monday November 1, which includes soup and seasonal baguettes. New seasonal specialty baguettes include a honey-roasted ham and brie baguette topped with fig and honey chutney, a smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber and arugula baguette and a vegan option from a baguette with hummus, beetroot, crispy chickpeas and arugula.

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Their two most popular lunch menu options are Coronation Chicken and Bacon, Brie, and Chili Jam Panini.

The café will also soon host workshops for making Christmas garlands by Flora and Fauna florists, which are already full.

New business in the Banbury area – Harper’s Coffee House – recently launched its new seasonal winter menu (Image from the cafe’s Facebook page)

The cafe employs five people – Wendy, Bo, Grace, Jane and Ellie. Its hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

But opening the cafe was not easy.

Harper’s Coffee House is located in what is called The Old Co-Op in the center of the village of Adderbury.

The building, which had stood empty for the previous 18 months, underwent a complete transformation with the help of Ellie’s family to become a cafe.

Lucy Harper, Ellie’s mum, said: ‘The challenges today of opening a business are so much greater with Covid and all. Ellie was very determined for the business to open.

The makeover of the characterful building was made possible with the help of Ellie’s father and uncle, who completed the fit-out process, which included outfitting the store with a commercial kitchen.

An old marble butcher’s table is on Ellie’s side of The Old Co-Op building. The other side of the old building is occupied by another business – the Squires Hair Design salon.

Ellie said: “It was my uncle, my father, me and my mother here every day for three months straight. I was able to design everything the way I wanted.”


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