Leamington Old Town feature: Bath Street businesses are more than coffee shops

Nikki Taylor at Bluebasil
Nikki Taylor at Bluebasil

Leamington town centre has been criticised for the number of chain coffee shops it has on its high street and the surroundings roads.

But in Bath Street in Old Town, two businesses are offering something different from this norm.

Manager Marina at Haunted.

Manager Marina at Haunted.

Bluebasil, at number 64, is a coffee bar and vintage homeware and gift store and Haunted at 3AE across the road is a lounge bar.

The former is owned by Nikki Taylor who set up a business selling chocolate brownie gift boxes online in 2010.

Starting off in the Cotswolds, the business outgrew its previous space and Nikki decided to expand on her love of all things vintage and wanted the opportunity to sell her brownies over the counter with her favourite coffee so she opened Bluebasil in May of this year.

Nikki said: “We wanted to create an interesting space with personality where we would love to sit and enjoy coffee and cake with friends that didn’t feel like a typical chain cafe.

The coffee bar focuses on coffee such as Monmouth of London, loose leaf teas including Golden Monkey of Warwick, handmade cakes made by the pastry chef on staff and simple but delicious quality handmade quiches, salads, fresh sandwiches, sausage rolls and savoury foods.

“We are not a cafe; no menu and don’t serve plated meals – hence the title coffee ‘bar’ with emphasis on great drinks, tasty bites, a quirky and fun space to sit, chat, shop, read and enjoy.

“We want to expand our vintage-themed shop over time – although almost everything in the coffee bar is for sale along with the smaller shop items.”

Bluebasil is also doing its bit to be as environmentally friendly as possible with all of its takeaway packaging, cups, bags, straws, boxes and even the bin bags it uses being recyclable and compostable.

All of the bottles it sells are glass and it was recently recognised as a ‘green business’ by PlasticFreeLeamington .

Nikki has said that business has become very popular in its first six months in the south of Leamington.

She said: “We are thrilled to watch our customer base grow in the coffee bar and shop as people discover that Old Town is beginning to become home to new businesses and interesting places are popping up.

“Our Saturday trading is becoming by far our busiest day of the week, but we are finding plenty of busy times throughout the week too as people discover us,” she added.

Miklos Bokotey opened Haunted in April 2017 and said that business was slow until the community in Old Town started showing its support.
He got the idea for the name of the lounge bar and its decor from historical reports of paranormal activity in the premises’ cellar.

Miklos said: “We have very quirky psychedelic decor from the best artists in this genre and also our furniture is antique Gothic.

“Our bar counter was made from more than 200-year-old oak Gothic church panels and our church pews are authentic as well.

“Our customers like to sit in our garden on sunny days and on evenings when the UV decor is more prominent.

“Last year we had a lot of successful events – psy chill parties with Banco de Gaia, reggae nights, psychedelic trance parties and drama evenings.

“Local spiritists have regular meetings at the bar and every Wednesday evening Mistress Brighid does tarot readings for anybody who wants to know the truth.

“So, pop in for a cup of coffee if you are not scared.

“We also serve full English breakfasts, lunch, tasty cocktails and absinthe - which was the favourite drink of famous Leamington occultist Aleister Crowley.”

Visit www.bluebasil.co.uk or search for Haunted Bar Lounge on Facebook.