On the outskirts of the Golden Triangle, where Trory Street meets Kimberley Street, there once stood the Kimberley Arms, a pub greatly frequented by locals in the late 80s and 90s.
“You entered at your own risk”
With a notorious reputation for having a rougher social environment, one such local and UEA lecturer recalls that “you entered at your own risk.” It’s only assets were prised of a jukebox and pool table.
Now, decades later, one can walk in and wrap their hands around, albeit not a pint of Norfolk pale ale, but a warm cup of lovingly and expertly made coffee, with a slice of divine carrot cake.
It was the father of co-manager, Harriet Carr, who spent the best part of 2 years renovating the pub to what is now a family-run cafe and deli which goes by the name (and place) of NR2. A qualified PE teacher, with 8 years’ worth of teaching experience, Harriet always had an interest in coffee. “I always liked the idea of having my own coffee shop. So I eventually left teaching 2 years ago to pursue this dream.”
“You’ve just got to take a risk”
Harriet admits to it being a testing part of your relationship, working with family day in, day out. “You end up talking to your parents in a way you normally wouldn’t.” And on top of this, the financial worry. “George Brentnall, the co-manager of NR2, warned me that we would have a £50 day. You wait for the time when nobody walks through the doors. And I had left a job with a good salary. But you’ve just got to take a risk, and so far we haven’t had that £50 day…”
“I just got it”
NR2 has now been open for approximately half a year. About 3 months into the opening of NR2, Harriet wondered why people would spend hours sitting in there. “The seats aren’t particularly comfy, compared with coffee chains like Cafe Nero” (whose nearest store is located on Unthank Road). “And then it clicked.”
“I finally took a break, maybe 10 or 12 weeks into the opening of the place, having been rushed off of our feet up until then. I sat outside with a cup of coffee and a plate of our goat’s cheese focaccia, and I just got it. There was music playing, students were on their laptops, Violet from across the road came in (who will be turning 83, and brings in her own mug everyday) and I just got it.”
Hub of the community
“There is a man who comes in everyday and orders a bacon roll and brown sauce. And he turned round to me one day and said: “If it wasn’t for this place, I would have nowhere else to go.””
“Often elderly people experience loneliness and isolation, and it’s great to just be in a space with other people.”
Harriet and George propose to giving it at least a year to see how the cafe/deli venture will pan out. But for the meantime, the post-pub, family-run venue in this part of the city is certainly a treat. As Norwich local puts it, “This is one of those finds that I didn’t actually want to share, but it’s too selfish not to.”