Gillian Pickard, Investment Manager, Finance For Enterprise (Centre) with Nicola and Robert Downham
Chloe Shakesby

Sheffield magic-themed cafe conjures up 18 jobs with £25k cash boost

The owners of a magic-themed cafe in Sheffield have announced that they have created 18 full-time jobs following a total £25k cash boost.

The Steel Cauldron, a witch and wizard cafe and inn in Broomhill, has received two £12.5k loans from Finance For Enterprise, a joint fund manager.

The cafe receives up to 1,000 visitors each week, and since lockdown has introduced social bubble activities such as wand making and family fun craft activities, plus evening entertainment including live magic shows, music and storytelling.

Robert Downham, ‘head wizard’ and co-owner of The Steel Cauldron, said: “We had originally intended to launch our business in March; however, we were forced to change our plans because of the national lockdown measures.

“We used the time to refine our business model and secure the funding needed to make it a reality.

“From my previous experience working in property and finance I was under no illusions as to the challenges facing new businesses, particularly when it came to raising funding.

“I knew it would be difficult to raise finance from traditional high street lenders, but when a friend mentioned the specific support provided by Finance For Enterprise to help new businesses it gave us confidence to believe in our business idea.

“From the outset, Gillian, our advisor, was extremely helpful and made the whole application process quick and straightforward. The two £12.5k loans were quickly granted and in our account within two weeks, which helped ease our worries about renovating the property, buying new equipment, and having a healthy cash flow.

“Since opening, we have been working 16-17 hour shifts and we’ve hosted around 300 birthday parties!

“When the new restrictions were introduced in October, we knew we needed to adapt our business model again, to be able to operate safely.

“We recognised that many talented musicians are struggling at the moment and so we have introduced a number of new evenings to help those affected by Tier 3 lockdown.

“The support provided by Finance For Enterprise has been vital to our success. Without it, it would have placed immense pressure on our cashflow and required us to scale down our plans. Instead we’ve succeeded in creating a venue which appeals to all ages, from toddlers to adults.

“Although it’s been an incredibly challenging environment, the business had continued to perform above our expectations, and we’re already hoping to expand our business by opening new sites in the future.”

Gillian Pickard, investment manager at Finance For Enterprise, said: “Starting a new business can be challenging for even the most seasoned entrepreneur and in a business environment where the leisure and hospitality sectors have been particularly hard hit by lockdown measures introduced, Robert and Nicola have defied all the odds to build a business which is not only responding to the challenges posed, but one that’s thriving.

“Many small businesses struggle to survive because of cash flow, something which Robert was acutely aware of from his finance background.

“Their application was supported by a robust business plan and as a result, we were able to put the finance in place quickly, enabling them to undertake the vital refurbishment needed.

“I’ve been really impressed by their efforts to date. The positive reviews their business has received, and the sheer number of jobs they have been able to create in such a short period of time is a testament to their hard work and dedication”.

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