Bread & Meat wins Cambridge BID’s independent shops festive window display contest
£150 prize money will benefit Alzheimer’s Society - ‘a cause close to our hearts’
Bread & Meat’s beautifully considered festive decorations won the Christmas window competition run by Cambridge BID with support from the Cambridge Independent.
Classily unobtrusive, the diner’s display resonated a festive feel without shouting about it.
The Cambridge Independent showcased eight festive windows that were shortlisted by judges. Bread & Meat received 235 votes via social media, while Cambridge Contemporary Crafts next door got 232. The winner was given £150 by Cambridge BID, which it will give to the Alzheimer’s Society.
“It was so close between us and Cambridge Contemporary Crafts,” says Bread & Meat’s Simon Cheney, who co-founded the eaterie with his wife Michelle three years ago. “We were neck and neck!”
Simon spent nine years working for BT as programme director for defence and security before the couple started their first venture in the food industry.
“We talked about things, taking on a pub, as you do,” he says.
“We’d been looking for ages when the site came up.”
The compact menu of artisan sandwiches, coffee and craft beers has thrilled locals and visitors alike. The menu was partly defined by the facilities – “there’s no extraction fan for a deep fat fryer, only the ovens”.
With 26 covers, the Bene’t Street premises fill up quickly, especially at lunchtimes.
“It’s a real mix. We’re absolutely As, Bs and C1s,” Simon says. “Our customers include a large group of retirees and pensioners, plus students and tourists, and we have a really good group of loyal regular customers – we like that.”
The Cheneys live in Ickleton, which is where they met their specialist window dresser, Claire, who runs floral design and styling studio Waterbaby Flowers from the village. Claire, who delivered the display for Bread & Meat, is both floral designer and runs floristry workshops.
“She helps us every year,” says Simon, adding that the brief was minimal. “It was basically just twigs last year! This year it was twigs with a few baubles.”
Claire rose to the occasion.
“Simon asked me to create a non-traditional Christmas window so I came up with the idea of a magical winter forest theme using twisted branches, lots of twinkling fairy lights and baubles in winter white,” she explains. “I also draped lots of white glittery asparagus fern branches that shone under the lights, giving an ethereal look to the installation.
“We’re delighted to have won best Christmas window in Cambridge especially as the prize money will be going to an Alzheimer’s charity, a cause with a personal connection to both myself and also to Simon.”
The Alzheimer’s Society is an organisation close to Simon’s heart, as his mother was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia (FTD) – a very aggressive form of the disease – five years ago.
“She started showing symptoms in her middle 60s,” he says. “She’s now in a home. To start with it looks like alcoholism, and it was very difficult in the early stages, so we like to get people to know about FTD.”
Bread & Meat is open every day until next Christmas.
“We’re open all the bank holidays,” says Simon.
Its opening hours are 11.30am-8pm Monday to Thursday, 11.30am-9pm Friday and Saturday, and 11.30am- 5pm on Sundays.
Will Baritt, marketing and events manager at Cambridge BID, said: “Cambridge BID has been running the Independent Christmas Window Competition for a number of years and are delighted that each year it proves even more popular with both participants and the public getting involved.
“We are very lucky to have such a fabulous range of independent retailers, cafés and restaurants and being able to showcase their amazing Christmas windows through this competition really is a pleasure.”