Souths Cafe in Oxford has become a huge hit with the locals. Manager Andrew Brewer, alongside business partner Gareth Bressington, designed the cafe in a vintage style to make their business stand out from the crowd.
Named after South Parade in Summertown, where the cafe is located, Andrew talks about why retro is so popular with local residents – and how a quirky theme helped capture his customers’ attention.
Pictured above: Gareth (left) and Andrew (right) at Souths Cafe.
“I’d describe our cafe as a funky, odds and sods sort of place. We haven’t really focused on a specific era or design, our main aim is to make the cafe feel homely and warming. It’s gone down the road of a shabby chic, retro sort of look.”
Wanting to appeal to a wide audience, the main aim was to make the cafe inviting and create a place where people could relax.
Since opening 18 months ago, Souths Cafe has become extremely popular, attracting locals with its unique interior design.
“People like us because we offer something for everybody and we’ve got a quirky style. For instance our retro ‘60s coffee machine is really unusual. I keep collecting bits and pieces to put on display, which adds to that retro, shabby chic look. We’ve just tried to be ourselves and let a bit of flair into the place. People seem to really like that,” says Andrew.
Pictured left: The retro 60s coffee machine at Souths Cafe.
Retro Revolution – Why are we Vintage Mad?
From hobble skirts and tweed blazers to Steepletone telephones, as a nation it seems we can’t get enough of all things retro.
Is it the media that has made us vintage mad? Or maybe the idea of nostalgia gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Whatever the reason, the retro look has everybody talking.
“There seems to be a lot in press at the moment about all things retro. Retro appliances have become very popular all of a sudden, for example. Most people like things that are quirky and different, and that’s what retro is all about.
“I think people like all things retro because it gives them a memento of the good old days. That nostalgic feeling can be really comforting.”
Our Old-School Menu Shakes Things up
As well as incorporating a retro style with their funky striped wallpaper and ‘60s coffee machine, Souths Cafe also has some unique features on its menu.
Pictured below: The Cafe’s signature vanilla milkshake served in a retro jam jar glass.
“A lot of our drinks have a retro vibe such as dandelion and burdock, old-fashioned colas, and coke floats. It just offers something different that you don’t tend to see in your average cafe. Our retro drinks are really popular because they’re unusual.”
Whether it be cups and saucers or a ‘50s jukebox, retro items can add character to virtually any space.
When he’s not on a shift at the cafe, Andrew is constantly on the lookout for more quirky bits and pieces.
“I often browse charity shops and the web for retro gear like signage and pots and pans, almost to clutter the place up as mad – as it sounds. The style can really make somewhere seem more welcoming and homely,” he says.
Sweet Sounds of Nostalgia
The Summertown cafe’s retro record collection is also a big hit with customers.
“A lot of the music we play is from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and sometimes modern stuff too. We play a bit of everything for everyone, but the majority of our music is very retro. We decided to incorporate older music because we wanted something that everyone would find relaxing.
“We now have a huge music collection. A song will come on and you’ll think, ‘I recognise this song from somewhere’, and you’ll look and it’ll be a really old number from the ‘60s. I think we’ll certainly look into getting a jukebox a bit further down the line.”
Achieving Retro Style with a Smile
It’s not just about getting the style right – cafes should also focus on being loyal to their customers.
“As well as having a unique style, we also go that extra mile for clientele. We always make sure they’re OK. We know our regular customers on first-name terms and understand what they like. I think that’s an important factor for any business.”
Service with a smile and the odd quirky feature here and there has played a strong part in the cafe’s success. So when it comes to good old-fashioned service, retro really is a winner for Souths Cafe.
Go Retro with O’Gorman’s
Remember the happy days – give your home or business some retro cheer. Here at O’Gorman’s we have a wide selection of Dualit toasters, funky fridge freezers, retro Roberts radios , jukeboxes, nostalgic record players and novelty telephones.
If you’re looking for cafe or restaurant equipment, be sure to check out our commercial range.
Sponsorship (for external publishing only)
This article was sponsored by O’Gorman’s, a Retra member and Euronics electrical retailer with stores in Kidlington and Bicester, Oxfordshire. Their website offers an extensive range of commercial and home appliances, including funky jukeboxes, retro dishwashers and nostalgic Steepletone telephones.