First thoughts of Roll for the Soul stirred in April 2012, sitting in Ashton Court on a sunny spring day. Why didn’t Bristol – Britain’s first Cycling City – have a bike cafe like Look Mum No Hands! in London or Mojo in San Francisco? Wouldn’t it be great if we did?
A couple of months later we had the chance for a test run at Bristol Cycle Festival. The 2012 Festival hub cafe on Park Street was held together with rubber bands and bits of string, but was all the lovelier for it. We had a great week, and it seemed as though the 1,000-odd people who came by for a cuppa or a bike-tweak did too.
So we set about writing a business plan, raising the money, and trying to turn a nice idea into a reality.
Lots happened over the following months. We registered the Community Interest Company, met a whole lot of fine folks through our Facebook and Twitter pages, were blown away by the response to our crowdfunding campaign, had plenty of ups and downs searching for the right premises, ran a series of popup bike cafes with The Bristol Bike Project and Coexist Community Kitchen, talked to a lot of other organisations who we wanted to work with, made successful grant bids to Bristol City Council and School for Social Entrepreneurs, and, well, a lot of other stuff involving spreadsheets and caffeine.
We finally opened on July 1st 2013. Our premises on Quay Street (same road as Nelson Street, but at the fountains end) was completely renovated thanks to the cumulative efforts of many, many people. That includes volunteers who gave us more than 500 hours of help with all sorts of things, from cleaning to painting to building stud walls to plastering to making decorations. We’re still enormously grateful to everyone who helped us get as far as opening, and to all those who continue to help and support us now. Chapeau!