SE Twenty, the interview

SE Twenty has now been open for a few weeks, and we have appreciated all the patience and support while we’re settling in. In the meanwhile, local blogger, Love Anerley, has had a chat with owner Graham Cook to discover the inspiration behind SE Twenty.

We liked the interview so much, we thought we’d also share it here!


What inspired you to open SE Twenty?

GC: I’m a local boy, born and bred and after growing up in the area, it subsequently became where I worked too. Spending most of my time during the week – and at weekends – in Anerley made me realise that although it’s a lovely area, it was lacking a proper space where local people could have coffee and a catch-up. I’d been thinking about opening something like SE Twenty for a while and so when the opportunity came up, I grabbed it with both hands!

The vision for SE Twenty has always been centered around the local community, honest good-mood-food and great coffee. Oh, and maybe a glass of wine (or three) and beer!


The cafe’s decor has some really cool quirky details – where did that vision come from and where did you source the pieces from?

GC: I wanted it to be somewhere where everyone feels comfortable – from grandparents, to twenty-somethings, to professionals and families with young babies, and I think the natural woods and textures appeal to everyone. As for the quirky details; I’ve always been a bit of a magpie, and have steadily built up a collection of unique items that have finally found a home in SE Twenty. Also, quite a lot of the pieces in SE Twenty have been specially handmade by some very local talented carpenters and craftsmen, such as the table with a resin inlay of the River Thames snaking across the centre.

I’m particularly pleased with the children’s play area, which had received lots of positive feedback from visiting parents (and their little ones), and older customers are still catered for by the provision of a well-stocked bookshelf with an adjacent sofa for reading. And of course, there’s always the bar!


What do you like about the Anerley area and how do you envisage SE Twenty in our community?

GC: Anerley is a real melting pot of young families, older residents and commuters, so it was important to me to create a place which makes everyone feel welcome. There is a real sense of community in Anerley, and my hope is that SE Twenty becomes the go-to-spot for breakfasts, coffee and cake, Sunday lunches and a bit of everything else in between, for all the residents.

We have a community board inside SE Twenty, which is a dedicated space for local businesses and entrepreneurs to advertise their services, as well as for people to share local events and fundraisers. The ‘News & Blogs’ section on the website is also another opportunity for us to promote and support local people and events.


What have you learnt so far about opening a cafe – what advice would you give to someone who is thinking about doing it?

GC: My advice would be; how ever long you think it’s going to take to get up and running, double it – and then double it again! Honestly, it’s been a real learning curve and although I’ve been a business owner for 14 years, it’s been a big lesson to learn that actually, every business is different and requires a different set of skills and planning to get the doors open. SE Twenty is still in its infancy and although we’ve had some initial teething problems, following feedback from customers – all of which is carefully considered, by the way – we’ve made significant improvements in the few weeks we’ve been open.

Overall, the support we’ve received from local people and customers have been fantastic and we appreciate everyone who has come to visit. I’m confident that with a little more hard work from my team – and a couple of tweaks – SE Twenty has got the recipe to become a success.

 Fancy saying hello to Graham? We are on social media: Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.