When we were discussing the idea of all of our team writing a little about our favourite businesses, my initial thoughts were ‘hm, I’m not sure I really have any *favourite* businesses’ until I remembered a couple of ones that either make me happy, or bring a smile to others’ faces; and as they say – write about what you know!
First up…Casita bar, Shoreditch
Without wanting to sound like a bar fly, Casita is somewhere that’s almost become a bit of a home from home for me and many, many others over the past few years. Promoting itself as a ‘cocktail shed’, the capacity is only around 25 (ok, 30 at a push/squeeze!) so when you step inside, you WILL get to know people – it’s just a matter of time.
I’ve been going to Casita for around three years now (although it feels a lot longer), and it’s not just the fantastic drinks that make the place a favourite amongst east Londoners. From their regular and bargainous £5 ‘interesting’ cocktails (who’d have thought you could be so creative with Um Bongo – or that they still made it for that matter), their infamous ‘Tequila con Verdita’ (don’t ask what’s in the Verdita; it’s more of a guarded secret recipe that Colonel Sanders’ chicken) and the monthly ‘CineCasita’ posters, the fantastic warm welcome you receive always puts me in mind of Cheers and keeps me coming back for more.
In a time when local pubs are becoming as rare as a four-leaf clover, Casita reminds us that it’s possible to still run a great little business which embraces the local community and forges great friendships – a feat that is nigh on impossible in most areas of central London, especially self-aware Shoreditch.
And the best news? Tonight they’re launching ‘Casita2’ (1 Broadway Market E8, 4HP) – a late-night version of Casita, where I’m fairly sure I’ll find myself at some point over the bank holiday weekend…the question is, will they keep the same final song of the night?!
Years ago when I was at school, friends and I went through a phase of buying birthday gifts for one another with our names on – think door plates, mugs (often those ones with the meaning behind your name all ver them), badges (well, they were a ‘thing’ in the late ’80s/early ’90s) and it was always a little bit of a treat to receive something that someone had put a tiny bit of thought into rather than useful gifts.
The folk at ‘not on the high street’ have taken this idea and really run with it – but somehow managing to avoid being tacky or cheesy. Set up ‘around a kitchen table’ back in 2006, the two founders made it their goal to source the best products from the most creative and original small businesses and put them altogether in one place. Almost ten years on, the business has grown dramatically, yet they still keep that ‘small business/startup’ feel to the site.
Pretty much any time I’m looking for an original gift, I make it my first port of call – I love the designs of their prints, especially the ones you can personalise. Some friends of mine had twins a few years ago and it was lovely to be able to get a couple of prints with the babies’ names, weights, time and place of birth on; which four years on, still decorate their bedroom). More recently I ordered an engraved silver hip flask for a friend’s 40th – everything so far has been great quality and really reasonably priced.
If you haven’t checked them out already – hurry up and get over to their site – I’ve just noticed they’ve got free delivery on EVERYTHING for the next few days…uhoh, I don’t think my bank balance is going to appreciate this!