Honesty Inkpen is a beautiful place to enjoy breakfast, lunch or a cup of coffee. There is something about the atmosphere that makes me happy. It sits next to the Crown and Garter pub, restaurant and hotel, in the heart of the beautiful West Berkshire countryside and it truly is a super location. In the winter the coffee shop is cosy and inviting and in the spring or summer when the sun shines there are tables outside where customers can soak up the sun. It's an ideal spot for walkers or cyclists to sit and have a break, with plenty of room to leave cycles. It is also welcoming to children and dog walkers. We are still working on our homemade dog biscuits, which I do hope to see on sale in 2017. It is important for me that when we open coffee shops they sit well within the community which they serve. For too long commerce has helped to destroy community. With the community in mind we want to develop Honestyinkpen as a casual meeting place for groups within the vicinity and we shall be working on this, this year.
Once upon a time the coffee shop was a barn and part of the coaching inn. I imagine a place where the horses might have been rested, fed and watered on a journey somewhere. It was also used on one occasion as a place to lay out the corpses of two people who ended their days swinging on the gibbett at Combe. Thankfully it fills a happier role now. In later years it became a skittle alley for the pub and when I purchased the pub in 2014 it was a place of residence for the previous owner.
I took a gamble turning the barn, as it was then called, into a tiny coffee shop and artisan bakery, a gamble because it would have been easier to turn it into another bedroom for the hotel, but I like a challenge and I thought that it would add another dimension to the Crown and Garter having it as a coffee shop, and I think it has achieved this aim. Some people do just want somewhere to break a walk or a cycle ride and a pub restaurant can often mean you end up eating more than you originally intended, so we get a slightly different clientele to the pub clientele. It was lovely seeing it work as a coffee shop and a bakery when we first opened. The bakery walls, facing out to the coffee shop, were perspex sheets so that the customers could see the baker at work and the smells were enticing to say the least. It did quickly become apparent, however, that as soon as the demand for bread and cakes increased so the space at the bakery became inadequate. it did not take long to move the bakery to the unit at Greenham where we now produce the cakes in the day and the bread at night.
The upside was that we now have a lovely roomy space for a coffee shop that also doubles up as a private dining room in the evening. It is one of the nicest private dining rooms I have eaten in and although you could argue I am biased I am also my harshest critic so I feel my views can be taken as impartial overall. The space also makes a great place for meetings for businesses and as the coffee shop is served by the Crown and Garter kitchen a variety of hot or cold food for lunch or dinner is not a problem.
Take the time to pay us a visit in the new year. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.