The Barnes Edit talks to Alma cafe

When you are next taking your children to Rocks lane football or visiting the Wetland centre, take a peek inside this brand new cafe and have one of their great flat whites or a healthy salad.

The Barnes Edit popped in to talk to the owner Baha and his lovely manager Raj.

What led you to set up your own business?
An interest in professional sports (I am a semi professional Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner) led to a big interest in healthy food. I was inspired by Ottolenghi, L’eto caffe among others for their selection of fine foods and pastries.
Why did you decide on Barnes?
My wife and I were looking for a place to move, so I had been researching Barnes, in particular for it’s good schools. I have not ended up moving to Barnes (just yet!) but found a spot which I thought was ideal for our restaurant. Barnes is a lovely neighbourhood and we think that our food offering will be a great addition.
Who is your target customer and what is your concept?
Our target customers are mostly families I would say. We have a special kids section in our restaurant where kids can draw on a big drawing wall and in general have some space to play around with our big teddy bear and other soft toys to keep them busy while parents can enjoy their meal.
Our concept is based around healthy fresh food and salads with the occasional indulgence of delicious pastries. We have an in house pastry chef as well as preparing our own granola, jams and spicy nuts. We don’t just buy and put our sticker on it, we actually prepare it all at Alma and trust me it makes a difference in terms of quality of the food. Our granola has become an instant bestseller within two months of opening. We will be starting to serve Brazilian acai and pitaya bowls (for breakfast) in 2 weeks time as well as launching a kids menu. We are currently working to create a more enhanced juice bar with more smoothies, fresh juices and fitness shakes with protein.
What have been the biggest challenges so far?
We get a lot of comments like “your food is amazing, but your location is a bit tucked away” and so many people do not know that we exist. So I guess our biggest challenge is to overcome this perception and hope to increase awareness and let people know that we are here. We believe in our food, and we believe this offering is beneficial to Barnes. We are not part of a big chain. We are independent and do everything ourselves. Alma is our only restaurant and we take pride in everything that we do.
What are your future plans for the cafe?
We enjoy doing what we do currently. We aim to make Alma the first port of call for brunches, healthy juices, smoothies, salads in Barnes at least. Alma is named after my daughter who is 2 months old and I hope to see Alma grow along with Alma Cafe. And perhaps in the future who knows, there will be Alma Cafe somewhere else, or Little Alma elsewhere, but our immediate plan is to focus and give the best to our customers at Alma in Barnes.