Once in a Blue Moon Café aren’t your regular café. They are a traveling eatery, venue, and workshop space that’s built on community spirit and an eco-friendly ethos. You’ll find them at eleven festivals this year, as well as various parties in Bristol and beyond. As soon as they joined us in Lincoln Street Warehouse we wanted to know more, so we popped over for a cuppa.
Pat, Chris, Helyn and Fran are the team behind Once in a Blue Moon. Each of them brings a different strength to the business. For Pat this is music and logistics. For Chris it’s engineering and technicalities. Helyn is the artsy one, you’ll find her making signage and decorating the space. Last but not least, Fran is the glue that keeps everyone together. She is great with people, and keeps everyone positive.
There are also a team of volunteers that help out at Once in a Blue Moon café, who are reimbursed with festival tickets, a place to chill out, and some delicious grub.
The team certainly have awesome jobs. But their beginning was humble.
“We started from nothing. At our first event, we sold brownies during solstice at Stonehenge. After this we did loads of market stalls. We worked solid 15-hour days, and barely paid ourselves for it. All of this was important. We learned how to work with crowds, and how to perfect our recipes.” – Chris
A grant from the Prince’s Trust allowed the café to purchase a hot water urn large enough to make 150 cups of tea. The team headed to Glastonbury, lit a fire, and handed out chai and biscuits in exchange for bits and bobs that would contribute to the café.
“In actuality, that trading at Glastonbury wasn’t much of a success. Most of our things got robbed, and the clean-up team took the rest. But we had a good time and it generated a good buzz.” – Pat
An unsuccessful trading experience wasn’t enough to stop the folks of Blue Moon. They continued their venture, and landed a café slot at their first festival – Gearfest. With a borrowed tent and the help of some friends, the café was a hit. In 2016, Once in a Blue Moon Café visited nine festivals. Their 2017 line-up is even busier, with 11 festivals and an assortment of events and parties.
The café has maintained its interest in trading, offering free meals and drinks to those that can bring something to the community. Sometimes this is live music, other times it’s workshops. There is always something new and exciting.
One of the best things about the café is their ethos. Food is locally sourced and organic wherever possible. All cutlery is made from recycled material and is compostable, and furniture is upcycled or built by local craftspeople and small businesses. They even sell biodegradable glitter.
“There’s a saying that you vote with your wallet. We are providing food for hundreds or thousands of people. That’s a lot of votes. When we buy stuff, we have a big responsibility.” – Chris
“Our ethos has always been support local businesses. That’s what Bristol is all about. It would be silly to live here, around all of these start-ups and small businesses and then shop at Tesco.” – Pat