One of Birmingham’s leading independent coffee shops is to close its doors – thanks to another gear shift in the workplace.
The need for office staff to have more showers after cycling into town has put the brakes on 6/8 Kafé which has reached the end of the road on Temple Row.
After opening in 2011, the multi-award winning cafe soon found itself in the vanguard of the independent, artisan coffee shop revolution alongside the likes of Yorks , Urban Coffee , Cherry Reds , Java Lounge , Quarter Horse and more recent city newcomers 200 Degrees and Damascena .
But having survived three years of mayhem during the construction of the Metro tram along nearby Bull Street , its original bar is closing down to facilitate the provision of showers for cyclists.
Owner Devinder Dhallu says: “We are sad to close our flagship store we are truly grateful for our customers who have supported us through good times and bad.
“We will have a closing down party on May 12 to say a massive ‘Thank you’ to staff and customers.
“We feel privileged to have had some fantastic staff.
“Our last coffees will be served on Wednesday, May 17 and we will hand over the unit on May 19.”
6/8 Kafé will retain its larger, two-year-old spin-off cafe inside Millennium Point .
But the city centre closure follows the equally shock departure of national pioneer Coffee Republic from the other side of Temple Row just a month ago after the lease on its site ran out.
London-based Coffee Republic opened there 17 years ago but now has no more cafes left in the city despite the coffee shop boom in recent years.
Devinder says the two closures are part of the latest trends in the area.
“Both sides of Temple Row are seeing office redevelopments,” he says.
“We’ve looked at the Coffee Republic site, but I think that will become part of a trend for offices having more impressive reception areas.
“The building we are a part of has just been redeveloped and we’ve had three landlords in two years.
“But our current landlord has been brilliant with us while the whole site has been covered with scaffolding which really affected our business.
“Blacks Leisure on the corner with Bull Street has become an insurance office and with more offices comes the demand for bike racks and shower rooms.
“On Bull Street, The Lewis Building is being redeveloped with 60 cycle parking spaces and showers for cyclists.
“I think it will be the same for our redeveloped building.
“The only place where they can now create showering facilities is in the space that we have, including our basement which enables us to have 60-70 people in standing for events.
"So now we are moving out."
Who is Devinder?
Before he switched to creating coffee shops, Devinder was a specialist software engineer in the aeronautical industry, working across London, Brussells, Munich and Stuttgart.
“I spent a lot of time in coffee shops,” he says.
“I had seen how coffee shops were causing a buzz in London and wanted to bring that to Birmingham by combining coffee with music and art.
“I wanted to do something that hadn’t really been done in Birmingham.
“We wanted to spread the excitement about coffee from London to here and also to create a meeting place for creativity.
“I’d done a of travelling and could see how cities were becoming homogenous.
"We wanted to create colour and noise.”
Do you remember your first opening?
“Yes, it was February 4, 2011 and so cold we didn’t need a fridge for our milk,” laughs Devinder.
“Nobody came in.
“VAT had gone up and the council was making redundancies. It was not a good time.
“We’d already been trying to get it open for a year – the site was formerly a (budget sandwich chain) Benjy’s but had been closed for three years.
“At the start it was very difficult, but eventually we were successful and made a splash both locally and nationally.
“We need to find somewhere else in the city because our Millennium Point business has real peaks and troughs around BCU term times and the fact that it’s not a destination.”
How does 6/8 Kafé work?
“We currently employ 16 people split between Millennium Point and Temple Row,” says Devinder.
“But many of those jobs are seasonal and for students so we won’t be making any redundancies.
“People come and go and around 100 people have worked for 6/8 Kafé so far.
“They have been crucial to our success and have represented Birmingham in national competitions.
“We were voted the Birmingham Mail Best Cafe in Birmingham 2016 by readers.
“Our other awards include Best Coffee Shop in Birmingham for 2014 and 2017 and being voted a Top 50 Coffee Shop In the UK by the Independent national newspaper in January, 2013.
Six Eight Kafé’s baristas have won the Northern Ireland Barista Championships (2012), Best Newcomer in the UK (2014) and reached the semi-finals of the United Kingdom Barista Championships in 2012 and 2014.
“We were even part of a BBC Breakfast live broadcast on April 30, 2013," adds Devinder.
What do you think of the Metro?
“When the work was finally finished I thought ‘Fantastic’,” says Devinder.
“But I don’t see any positive effect.
“All it means is that people can carry on going further to New Street without them coming past here.”
“We are keeping our Millennium Point cafe," says Devinder.
"But I need to find somewhere else in the city to open and we’ll have to have a bigger space with a perhaps a roastery and a restaurant bar, so I will need investors to help.
“We are looking into other sites and looking forward to teaming up with like minded parties interested in investing in the next stage of the exciting Six Eight journey.
“If anyone fancies joining me, they are welcome to email me at email@example.com or to visit our website here
Six Eight Kafé is at 6/8 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5HG