Returning local creates venue for community

A ST JOHNS coffee shop has been transformed into a venue for the community to meet, over a hot drink, a meal or a glass of wine.

Bem Coffee, formerly Penny Blacks, in St Johns Road, was taken over last year by returning local resident Jane Moffatt.

“I love Woking. When I came back from Hong Kong and Rio, I loved being in Surrey which is spacious and green. It’s so beautiful around here which is often taken for granted”

Jayde Farinha, new owner Jane Moffat and Kasia Rogusha

Jane has lived in various parts of Woking and went to Halstead Preparatory School before attending a boarding school in Effingham.

While expanding the coffee shop into somewhere that serves hot and cold drinks and a growing range of food, Jane has been careful to bring the Penny Blacks regulars with her.

One of the aspects of the former business – the monthly book club – is still running on the first Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm.

But there have been major changes as well, including doubling the size of the interior and expanding the menu.

“It’s really exciting. Before they used to do a few paninis that were brought in by another company, but now we do a full English breakfast on a Saturday and are gradually adding that in all week. The largest part of our menu is breakfast.

“We also do sandwiches and paninis and in the evening serve nibbles to go along with the beer and wine, for which we have a licence.”

Jane, 26, has previously worked in coffee shops and was keen to return to that world, this time as the boss.

She has six members of staff and can be found behind the counter, preparing food and drink, and also chatting to her customers.

The name “Bem” comes from bem estar, which is Brazilian Portuguese for “wellness”.

At the moment Bem Coffee is open until 9pm from Thursday to Saturday and 5pm on other days. It is hoped that those times will move a little later.

Jane has dogs and she and fellow dog walkers on St Johns Lye like to sit in the outside area at Bem with their pets.

“I am hoping to expand the outside area. Last winter we added blankets for people to sit outside in the winter. We added comfier chairs and will get heaters for this winter.”

Various special events are held at Bem and there will be a Christmas-themed one on 16 December. Tickets are on sale now and can be found on Bem’s Facebook page.

Jane said her favourite part of the job was preparing food and serving customers.

“I really enjoy it. We have same people come in in the morning and we have a good chat. It’s like a small family.

“They all love the changes and it’s all really exciting,” she said.

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