By Fiona O’Brien
Belfast twins Alan and Gary Keery will in just a few weeks open the UK’s first-ever cereal cafe – that’s right the only things on the menu will be breakfast cereals. For some it will come as no surprise that it will be in London’s hipster friendly Shoreditch.
Over a hundred different cereals, 20 toppings and 13 varieties of milk will be on offer at the Cereal Killer Cafe when it opens it doors on December 10, putting a new twist on ‘all-day breakfast’.
Open from 7am to 8pm on Brick Lane, the cafe will sell a full-on nostalgic breakfast experience of times gone by with memorabilia and merchandise adding to its very own ‘museum’, with visual and audio reminders of the Eighties and Nineties.
There will also be vintage televisions dotted about the interior, running old cartoons on a loop, and people not looking for traditional cereal foods can get their retro fix in the form of Pop Tarts, toast and coffee.
But where did the idea come about?
“We were out in Shoreditch one afternoon for lunch, a bit hungover, and were just craving somewhere to sit down with a bowl of cereal,” Gary told the Irish World.
“The two of us had been discussing businesses like T-Shirt printing for a while but right then we were like ‘hold on a minute, that could actually work!’ So we went home and started the research into it.
“We’ve always been fans of cereal. When we were kids going to the supermarket with our mum and when we’d get to the cereal aisle she’d let us choose one each, and you’d have to make this decision based on the bright colours on the box, which one tasted the best and which had the best toys.
“We want to recreate that in the cafe as well. Behind the counter will be every cereal that’s on sale laid out so you can choose it like that or you can select it off the menu. Because like all of us you choose cereal as much for the box as for what’s in it.”
And there will be a healthier option for those who don’t want a high sugar fix first thing in the morning too.
“Every corner shop or supermarket sells cereal, but that’s the only place you can buy it. Why wouldn’t it work in a cafe environment, we’re not just selling a bowl of Cornflakes, we’re jazzing it up.
“We’ve got a hundred bowls of cereal, you can mix it up and do half and half, you can add 13 different flavours of milk and 20 different toppings, we’re not just selling a hum-drum bowl of cereal – we’re giving it a makeover.
“We bought a massive 20lb bag of cereal marshmallows from America, but then we’ve also got fruit – strawberries, banana, blueberries – and dried fruit and seeds, so there’s a healthy option as well. You can combine them with granola or Alpen and jazz it up with soy milk or rice milk. People can make there selection as healthy or unhealthy as they like depending on their mood that day.”
The Keery twins have been based in London for the past four years after a spell in Brighton, and feel that their previous careers will help them with their first business venture.
“I was a regional sales manager for E-Lites cigerettes, and for the past ten years worked in sales and hospitality for ten years, whereas Alan was a senior store manager for Superdry.
“I think my background gives me a good idea of how to run this sort of business and Alan has a great eye for merchandising so our combined qualities are really helpful to us.
“I went on starting up business courses and done accountancy online and we’ve been using the last year to really work on this business plan and make it as good as we can. Everything just seems to be falling into the right place at the right time.”
And apart from the great taste of the cereal, what’s going to set their cafe apart?
“We’re selling a whole experience behind it – the staff are going to be overly friendly. If it’s your first visit and you’re faced with hundreds of choices you are going to need help picking. With everything on the walls, it’s not going to be a ‘eat your cereal and get out’ vibe, it’s going to be more of a friendly place.
“Retail customer service to us is of the utmost importance, people will come back for the staff rather than what you are selling. We’ve got a playlist so far of about 700 80s and 90s songs already that will make customers go ‘ooh I remember that’ just to add to the whole thing really.
“It’s going to be a real feast for the eyes too. We’ve been trawling car boot sales and ebay to find as much weird stuff as we can. We’ve got Tony the Tiger skateboards, pencil toppers, Honey Monster kites, money boxes and cookie jars. I even found a limited edition set of Kellogg’s golf balls on eBay. It’s so weird to see the trail of thought of people who came up with merchandise.
“Our research was based on what cereals are available –if we can source it we can sell it. For example we found Frosties is very popular in Australia but there’s no point in selling that as you can get pretty much the same thing from all over the world.
“But there’s certain cereals in Australia you can’t get anywhere else like Milo cereal and Nutrigrain cereal so that’ll be our Down Under fix.
“We’ll have Cornflakes in the menu obviously, but I don’t know if it will be a big seller. We’re selling a lot of the British cereals for tourists who want to try local stuff, but I think most of our audience will be wanting to try things that you can’t get in this country.
“The great thing about this business as well is that we can update our menu on a daily basis. We can try out one box of cereal whenever we want and if it doesn’t sell we’ve only wasted £3!
“Depending on how it goes as well we’ll reconsider our opening hours. We would love to open for 24 hours at the weekend as there’s a definite market for it with people coming out of clubs but we will wait and see with that one.”
And what would Gary bring back from his childhood if he had the chance?
“I always remember and wish they could bring back Banana Bubbles. They were like banana flavoured Rice Krispies but they discontinued it because I think they found it gave people cancer. But I’m excited to say that we found a 1990s box of it to put in our museum – obviously not to sell!”
The two storey café will open at 139 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, and small bowls of cereal cost £2.50, medium bowls will set customers back £3.00 and large bowls will be priced at £3.50.