Bristol brunching is bigger than ever as the city continues to open up, so we headed down to one of our community partners, Wayland's Yard on Whiteladies Road, to speak with owner Sam Smith about the cafe’s success despite opening in the midst of the pandemic.
As a former professional rugby player for Worcester Warriors, Sam got into speciality coffee as a hobby whilst he was injured, but always thought he’d return to rugby. “Unfortunately, I had to retire due to the injury, so I threw myself into making Wayland’s Yard a reality!” he says. Sam opened the first Wayland’s Yard in Worcester back in October 2016, shortly followed by another space in Birmingham.
We were interested to know why he chose Bristol to be home to the newest opening. “I have always loved Bristol; it’s been on my radar for a while. We fancied a change and Bristol was top of the list to move to with its amazing love for independents and community spirit. So, when the opportunity to open a coffee shop here came up, it was a great excuse to move!”, Sam explains.
“We had been looking at the Whiteladies Road site before COVID-19, but the sale fell through. So, when it became available again around December 2020, we decided to go for it as restrictions were lifting again”, he says. But of course, COVID had other plans and we went into another lockdown.
“We hired a few members of staff and were gearing up to open, this is when another lockdown hit”, Sam explains. This forced Sam and the team to think outside the (horse) box.
When the only option alongside the COVID restrictions was to offer takeaways, they opened a horsebox outside the front of the café. “We operated as a takeaway hatch for around three months, which was great to get the business started and we gained lots of regulars on their morning commute”, Sam says.
The venue was a café previously, but Sam and his team wanted to recreate the space, so decided to demolish everything and change the layout. “We carried out renovations throughout January; it was a smaller project compared to the other two locations but was still very nerve-racking”, he adds.
“One thing we have really felt in Bristol is the community vibe. Customers say they’re going to tell their mates about us, and they actually do! They come back the next day with friends, that just doesn’t happen in other cities. The reception from customers here has been amazing and everyone is super supportive. Bristol is like no other city.”
We wanted to know more about the inspiration behind Wayland’s truly unique menu. “We wanted to do brunch differently. The eggy crumpets were initially put on our specials board in 2015, and within a week it was our bestseller and has been on the menu ever since. The fried chicken crumpets are a new addition we added just before lockdown which has since become a bestseller too, especially in Bristol, people here love it!” Sam explained.
With its unmissable bright orange shopfront, Waylands Yard is a must-go for Bristol brunching!