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Tunbridge Wells bike shop cafe shortlisted for British Restaurant and Bar Design award

The Velo House has only been open since April but already supports a range of cyclists in the South East

A bike shop cum cafe in Tunbridge Wells is one of only two UK venues to make the shortlist in the Restaurant and Bar Design category of the prestigious Society of British and International Design awards 2014.

The Velo House on St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells only opened in April this year, but has become a home for cyclists and includes a café, shop and workshop.

It was formerly an old bank, complete with original features such as the bank foyer Terazzo floor, and the Bank Manager’s office which is now the workshop.

The café offers pre and post ride food plus big screens showing all the racing and upstairs the shop sells a selection of clothing and accessories and a small selected range of bikes.

The Velo House was dreamt up by keen road cyclist, Olly Stevens, who left a job in the city to pursue his passion. Olly enlisted his wife Sophie’s business, SGS Interiors, to transform the bank. Sophie is also a keen cyclist and this project was close to her heart.

She said: “The Velo House was our first commercial scheme and whilst the brief specified a welcoming, comfortable ‘home’ for cyclists, the transition from residential design to commercial property design presented an opportunity to research a whole new market for my business, and adjust our approach.

“I’m proud of the project as the cafe is regularly filled with a mix of local residents, school run families and cyclists, all socialising in the same space. The overall aesthetic is something different for Tunbridge Wells, more urban, young-spirited and independent, and we’re delighted to be finalists in the SBID awards.”

Olly said: “I am delighted that we have been able to create a modern light and spacious cafe which retains much of the character of the old bank. With a limited budget the skill of SGS Design was to make the most of the original features and materials and compliment them with new industrial fabrics to create a modern space that feels warm and homely. 

“I feel this has been perfectly realised and of course feel that Sophie’s business should win the award!“

The Society of British and International Design Awards ceremony takes place on the 14th November and The Velo House is one of ten venues from around the world nominated in the Restaurant and Bar Design category.

5 St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9TN
www.thevelohouse.com

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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