Start your job hunt with a coffee break. And do it on 26September when Bloomsbury’s Central café introduces new facilities for students.


Business mogul Bill Gates is said to have stated in a speech to fresh faced high school students of America, the 11 definite mantras of a successful life. Number 10, quite reasonably, warns of the dangers of confusing the actors of your favourite sitcom with your actual nearest and dearest:

“Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to work.”


Oh, Bill. How much you and your entrepreneurial genius are missing. Because far away from the Apple scented Matrix, where both sitting for hours in a coffee shop and the daily commute to work are two distant activities of the hoi polloi, a dynamic duo in Bloomsbury have created a situation where they are one and the same.

…for anyone who is “passionate about what they do”…

Central Café’s vibrant red awning immediately grabs attention from its sedate location on the ground floor of the Bedford Square MyHotel. Its concept is a unique combination of temptingly fresh food, a relaxed atmosphere, and a opportunity for anyone who is “passionate about what they do” to mingle in the spacious members area or the 3 contemporary meeting rooms, and, somehow, amongst the quirky geometric 70’s décor and the ping pong table work surfaces, find the motivation to get down to business. Which, with 140 members, and new budding entrepreneurs arriving for prospective tours every day, they seem to be doing with ease.

The chilled out workplace and watering hole is the brainchild of James Layfield and Steve Pette, who, with extensive backgrounds in the creation and upkeep of First Class airline lounges, know about the nomadic nature of today’s professional world. Despite the easygoing vibe of the brightly lit interior, James explains to me that Central was actually born out of a profound feeling of frustration.

“We had a lot of experience working in cafés, in hotel lobbies…and in each one, there was always something that wasn’t quite right. So we put our heads together and thought ‘`what is it that you’d want from a perfect office space?”

…for each member there is something personal that makes Central unique…

Cue eighteen months of intricate preparation and intensive market research, where the two business partners pooled not only their ideas but also those of the 500 people they interviewed to create the dream working environment for as wide a dynamic as possible. As a result, for each member there is something personal that makes Central unique. For Alistair, a workplace effectiveness analyst for Leesman, it is the structure of the organization and the focus on business and hard work that means he chose Central over a previous collaborative office centre three months ago, and often guides his clients towards a similar decision.  For James himself, it is the café culture, “the inviting food and drink” that no other similar office establishment has to offer.

 I try one of the peanut butter brownies, and it is indeed, artery cloggingly tasty. Equally pleasing, and perhaps almost as potentially heart stopping is the revelation that this vastly expanding and corporately lucrative business’ big aim is opening its arms towards the student population. A new printing and stationery facility will time its launch especially for the start of the university term, on the 26th September. In spite of Central’s 300 capacity, James hopes to welcome “thousands of students” to celebrate the new area, and, showing an astute knowledge of the ways of the student mind, remarks laconically that “there’ll be free coffee for everyone”.

…new things seem to be evolving as speedily as the table service…

This warm cup of genuine altruism comes stirred by a consistent eye on the future: prospective future entrepreneurs and members, and Central’s long term aim to aid at least 1000 businesses by 2016. With an ambition to expand to over 30 sites in the next 5 years and the opening of the second Central on Great Eastern Street already bookmarked for Christmas, new things seem to be evolving as speedily as the table service.

It may seem like the dizzying success story of television fantasy. But with regular business coaching events and free trials for prospective new joiners, Central make sure that the way to success is not an 11 point life guide, but an ability to interact, adapt and through this, remain accessible, friendly and real.

Some, like the child prodigy Mr. Gates, are born great. Some achieve greatness. And, it seems now, some run into greatness on the corner of a Bloomsbury street. And it is offering a smile. And a warm peanut butter brownie.

Central Café is located on 11-13 Bayley Street, London WC1B 3HD or can be found online at Their free Printing and Stationery launch is on 26 September 2011.
Images courtesy of MyHotel and Bill Gates


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