Our #GoodFoodCardiff campaign is our mission to make Cardiff become one of the UK’s most sustainable food places – by asking people from all walks of life to ‘make a pledge’ that will help Cardiff achieve Gold Sustainable Food Places status by the year 2024.
With the help of some funding from For Cardiff’s City Ambition Fund, we’ve been profiling some of the business in the city centre already making a difference; here we catch up with Kasim Ali, founder and proprietor at Waterloo Tea and Wyndham Cafeteria:
“I run two hospitality businesses here in Cardiff city centre – Waterloo Tea, and the more recently opened Wyndham Cafeteria. We love being based in the centre of Cardiff, flying the flag for independents and giving people visiting the choice of going somewhere that isn’t just the usual chains.
“At both businesses, sourcing locally is really important to us; we know we’ve got great produce here in South Wales but sometimes the distribution links aren’t there. We knew we wanted to do business in a way that supports local producers, and builds those links, because it’s a nice thing to do – and it means more freshness and quality – but it’s economically important too; it means the financial benefits stay right here in South Wales.
“With the Wyndham Cafeteria, we aim to offer something accessible with mass appeal – but priced fairly, using local ingredients done well. This means have a menu of fried breakfasts, breakfast rolls and all the classics people are familiar with – but with all of our fresh ingredients sourced from Cardiff Central Market (bread, vegetables and meat). The suppliers either drop them over to us, or the staff are able to just pop down the road to pick something up, and we love that.
“At Waterloo Tea, we run an all-day brunch menu of more modern dishes (like poached eggs and avocado, or wild mushrooms on toast with aioli) along with an extensive range of teas which we source ourselves. Though we don’t use the market to supply Waterloo Tea, we get our breads from local organic baker Alex Gooch, our diary and dry goods from Castell Howell, and our veg from Windsor Fruit & Veg in Penarth.
“Sourcing locally like this is fundamental to why we’re here. It makes us enjoy doing business, it makes us feel as if we’re part of something bigger, and we know that every pound that’s spent with us has a local impact. We want to show that it’s all possible. Building trade links locally in South Wales also feels really important for future food security and sustainability.
“For us, ‘sustainability’ isn’t just about the food we put on our plates, it’s ensuring that our staff are looked after too. Historically we’ve always paid above minimum wage but around the time of Covid, we decided we wanted to formalise this and make it an official part of the way we work. As an industry, hospitality has masses of people on low wages, and often this just isn’t enough to cover the cost of living. As an employer, you have to do something about that – staff are the most important part of the business. We have been a Certified Living Wage employer for about two years now.”
Kas is also a volunteer member of the Food Cardiff strategy board, which focuses on the partnership’s strategic direction, offering guidance on how to further develop its success.
He said: “I joined the Food Cardiff Strategy Board over a year ago now; what I hope to offer is the hospitality business point of view – sharing the experiences from the industry so that we can learn from each other and improve the local food system for everyone.”