INTERVIEW

Rich from Yorks Cafe

By March 20, 2020 No Comments

Yorks was one of the first (and still is one of the best) ‘proper coffee’ places in Brum. They also know their way around an egg.

BK: Tell us about your business…

Rich: I am proudly part of the hospitality industry, from my early years as a glass collector in Northfield to being a member of the team at Yorks Café in Birmingham – its pretty tough to tell you what our offering is, tangibly it’s a mixture of Antipodean and Middle Eastern food, Coffee culture and an environment to facilitate people enjoying an experience and feeling good about themselves, I worked as front of house and a chef from however long I can remember and to be honest with you – when Yorks started there really was not much of that ‘experience’ culture going down, it was only relatively new in London at the time, so the idea for me personally was to make sure that working class people and your everyday worker or visiter to the city didn’t feel like they had to be part of a certain subset to go and enjoy something nice – it was for all of us, not just the few.

The best part of my job is nurturing new talent and holding on to old talent, Im very lucky that I get to stand side by side people that inspire me and make me laugh so much I sometimes keel over, that the beautiful part fo hospitality – if you’re abasolutley pissing yourself, youre halfway there. Though as I age, I realise the pissing yourself bit may end up being more on me, than laughing – my staff remind me of my ever increasing age constantly.

BK: How are you changing to combat this crisis?

Rich: At the moment we are trying to not put people at risk and this goes for all areas, this viral outbreak is a scary time and we need to think about the correct procedures for absolutely minimising cross contamination, the containers we put the food into, the things we serve in, the journey of the ingredients, we don’t want to be a heartbeat of contamination so we have decided to close the doors for now, we also do not want to put our staff in an outwardly dangerous position and feel as though they need to risk contamination for themselves, this of course has huge ramifications about how a business can function and the truth of the matter is, that it cant. We also do not want to rota on staff that we cannot honour payment for. Our number one priority currently is to look after our team, we have watched them shed tears and rally around, not for Yorks but for their colleagues and their customers. It makes you see, that when everything is stripped away, when the bar isn’t there for people to be behind – we are looking at each others eyes praying for one another. Our gofundme page is specifically set up for our staff, to give them something, some kind of token to make sure they know that we haven’t forgotten our moral obligation to the people that made us. We are toying with some ideas, online coffee subscriptions, pay what you can meal subscriptions – at the moment the ideas are based around supporting the community and keeping staff, our friends safe. This is  more than likely the stance that many other businesses are taking at the moment too and they need everyones help just as much.

BK: What can we all do to help you?

Rich: Anything – I guess its split into a few subheadings:

Donations: If you can, donate even a quid – we’ve had so many incredible people that have supported us so far its really overwhelming.

If you cant donate, spread the word, tell someone, it doesn’t even have to be us. Pick someone you absolutely fucking adore and scream about them to everyone. All of your favourite cafes and businesses are doing something right now.

If you’ve done both, offer them your services, what can you do?

Can you do graphic design for online promotions? Are they looking for a writer to turn their café story into something maybe beyond their skill level to communicate to a daunting internet audience? Can you create video podcasts? Interview them? Can you turn their stock into an ecommerce platform? Can you deliver for them? Can you offer them ingredients? – Every single person in this world has a talent and a skill and this is the spark that can create a time for you to shine and mobilise all of your local community heartbeats.

If you feel paralysed by fear to do anything, start practicing a form of mediation, calm yourself, realise we are all in this together, we move forward together as a global population, whatever you are feeling is correct and right – focus on positives and known, don’t fall into the negatives and the unknown.

Remember to look after yourself

BK: Tell me a book to read and some music to check out…

Rich: This is a crazy one for me because there’s so many books that I would offer people to read, if you want to understand the fragility of the human mind then there is a poem by Charles Bukowski called ‘’Bluebird’’ (which i’ve copied below) – in terms of books to read, I think Tales From the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky is a very apt read at the moment, maybe even some Ralph Waldo Emerson or Marcus Aurelias Meditations.

In terms of music – its got to be, hero of the black country Robert Plant – Led Zeppellin IV, if you aren’t familiar then put ‘When the levee breaks on’ and thank me later, but even Waynes World favourite ‘’Stairway to Heaven’’ has got some apt lyrics for the moment – ‘’to be a rock and not to roll’’ and ‘’our shadows taller than our souls’’ (Rob if you ever happen to read this… Carry Fire was a banging record) – I’ve also been known to turn people onto Rival Sons (Check out the song Jordan) ☺

Charles Bukowski “Bluebird”

There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
But I’m too tough for him
I say, stay in there
I’m not going to let anybody see you
There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
But I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke
And the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks
Never know that he’s in there

There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
But I’m too tough for him
I say
Stay down, do you want to mess me up?
You want to screw up the works?
You want to blow my book sales in Europe?
There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
But I’m too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes
When everybody’s asleep
I say, I know that you’re there
So don’t be sad
Then I put him back
But he’s singing a little in there, I haven’t quite let him die
And we sleep together like that with our
Secret pact
And it’s nice enough to make a man
Weep
But I don’t weep
Do you?

BK: Do you have anything else you want to say?

Rich: I have a really small tight knit circle of friends, people I’ve trained martial arts with, people I’ve travelled with, people I’ve debated all kinds of things with over a period of many years – these people are an inner sanctum for me, we’ve spent hours discussing existential things like the deeper meanings of life, this is the time to discover philosophy – it really will help you out in the future and with your mental health. Start with videos on youtube by the school of life and find something you connect with (you will find something) and don’t be afraid, it’s for you, everything created is for you.

Also just fucking laugh, constantly, even when you think you cant.

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