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Coffee chain HatHats, based at Reculver and Canterbury Academy, plans cafe expansion across Kent

A new chain of cafes is being planned across the district by an independent brand born out of a vintage French mobile coffee van service.

HatHats already runs a popular site at Reculver, and has another cafe at the Canterbury Academy and supplies its uniquely-blended brews to East Kent College's canteens.

Cafe entrepreneurs Louis and Lisa Hurst
Cafe entrepreneurs Louis and Lisa Hurst

Now entrepreneurs Louis and Lisa Hurst hope to expand the business with the proceeds of the recent sale of a separate telecommunications company he founded.

The deal to sell Amelix Telecom, based on the John Wilson Business Park at Whitstable, to a multi-billion pound conglomerate while securing its jobs with the new owner, has freed up capital for the new investment, says Louis.

And now they are keen to find fresh sites across Kent and work with other cafe operators.

"We couldn't really take the telecomms business any further but we think HatHats has great potential," said the 42-year-old who has launched several businesses and describes himself as a 'serial entrepreneur.'

"So we are looking for lots more locations across the county that suit our style of doing things which has already earned us a big following and many loyal customers."

HatHats has its own special blend of coffee
HatHats has its own special blend of coffee

HatHats is the nickname of the couple's youngest daughter, Hattie and was first used on their vintage Citroen HY coffee van which Lisa traded from at Chestfield station and around business parks in the Whitstable area for several years until the lockdown.

Since growing the business, it has collected numerous industry awards for its customer service, quality and staff mentoring.

Now the couple have a vision to expand the number of cafes and outlets to at least five in the shorter term and potentially many more.

"We have learned a lot about running cafes and use an independent coffee roastery to produce our unique blend of South American coffee.

"But we also want to help support other independent cafes through what is undoubtedly a tough time with a new initiative called Trading Partners where we can offer a better deal for them.

"We have a large warehouse and if we can buy various cafe supplies in bulk and get a better price, we can pass that on to other small operators who don't have that buying power on their own.

"We can also work together on issues like recycling," he said.

"Coffee residue, for instance, can be compacted and makes great, environmentally-friendly fuel for log burners, for example."

Louis and Lisa are confident that coffee drinking will remain popular, despite the lingering impact of the lockdown.

"A nice cup of coffee and a cake is one little luxury that most people will be able to afford," he said.

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