CSC and Grind & Co. first crossed paths when our Founders were on a panel discussion together earlier this year, hosted by Monocle Magazine. The Entrepreneurs series encouraged the panel to give advice on building a better business as well as sharing best practices and learnings from starting their own companies.
David Abrahamovitch spotted a niche in the London coffee scene back in 2011, along with his friend Kaz, and is now the Co-Founder & CEO of Grind & Co with seven branches all over London.
With our London HQ situated in Covent Garden, we’re (very) regular customers at Covent Garden Grind, it’s the perfect place to get a bit of headspace to concentrate on an important piece of work but also makes a great sociable spot for meeting editors and bloggers to discuss working together.
We worked with David recently on a photoshoot to launch our brand new Canvas Collection, his style of choice being the Weekend Bag, which figures, as he’s one of the busiest men we know. While we were shooting, we took the opportunity to catch up with David about all things Grind; how the whole business venture came about, his recipe for success and why his plans to expand the business aren’t slowing down any time soon.
We’re familiar with your story here at CSC (which is one of the reasons we wanted to interview you in the first place), but for those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit about how the idea for Grind & Co came about?
Sure! My friend Kaz (a DJ from Melbourne best known for his worldwide smash hit ‘I Like The Way You Move’ with the Bodyrockers) and I started Shoreditch Grind, a Café-Bar on Old Street Roundabout in 2011 serving coffee and cocktails in a really cool space with a recording studio upstairs. Grind has since grown into a group of seven (soon to be 10) Cafe Bars and Restaurants across London, and we have our own Coffee Roastery in Shoreditch.
What would you say your key values are as a business?
The idea is that a Grind is a place you can go at anytime and the food and drink you have will always be amazing, the space will always be individual and beautifully designed, the music will always be great and you’ll be served by someone who loves what they do and is enjoying themselves!
What is it about Grind & Co. that you think people love so much?
I think people like the vibe in the Grinds, which is always really fun, loud and bustly, and I think they’ve enjoyed being part of our growth story, and watching us develop from just coffee into full day to night venues.
The Grind locations all have a really distinct ambience and recognisable design. How did you go about deciding on the aesthetic?
Kaz and I designed the first store ourselves, and we’ve then worked with a friend of ours who is amazing and designs all the stores from Melbourne, where he lives. It’s something that’s developed organically, we don’t have a set template, we design each store to be reflective of the building it’s in (which is always old and beautiful and usually listed) and the area it’s in. Clearly our Grind at Royal Exchange in the heart of the city is going to have a more polished and refined look and feel compared to our original location in Shoreditch. It wouldn’t make any sense to me to make all the sites look the same – and we love the fact they all have their own names and their own identities.
Do you have a strict morning routine, how do you ensure you start your days right?
My days are really varied, but most days I’ll head straight to one of the Grind’s for a Flat White, Green Juice and some Eggs and Avocado. The day is guaranteed to be good when it starts like that!
What does a typical day look like for you?
We’ve opened three new sites this year, plus our Roastery and HQ, and we’ve doubled the size of another one of our locations, so this year has been pretty busy and pretty varied to say the least!
A typical day would be breakfast in our locations whilst I catch up on the reports from the night before and respond to emails and make some calls, before heading either to a meeting or catch up in one of our sites, or heading to our HQ in Shoreditch where the central team is based.
Most of the rest of the day would be spent between our locations, where I try and spend as much time as possible, meeting with the teams, or viewing prospective future Grind locations or visiting a site which is under construction – we’ve had at least one site being built pretty much constantly for the past two years so I’ve become pretty familiar with building sites!
What is your favourite thing about what you do for a living?
It’s been amazing journey over the last five years as we’ve grown to seven locations and an awesome team of over 130 people now. I really love the growth aspect of the business and I love the journey of creating each new location. I find the whole process of going and viewing a location, deciding to take it, getting the property deal done, designing and fitting out, building the team and then launching.
What is it about our Canvas Weekend Bag that you like?
I love the fact that it’s really well constructed, but also quite simple and understated and is not highly branded – I hate any form of branding, and never have any clothes with much of visible brand or logo. Plus it’s black, and I mainly wear black, and it’s a really nice size that is not too big for day to day use, but is also great for the gym, a travel bag, or hand luggage along with a bigger suitcase.
What will you be carrying in it?
I always have my laptop, a notebook, normally some papers and reports and always lots of chargers and headphones and stuff. I always carry a tape measure which seems to come in handy all the time, and often my hard toe boots if I’m visiting a building site or viewing property that is under construction. If I’m travelling, I’ll also have noise cancelling headphones and an iPad – and I have this awesome memory foam travel pillow which is amazing!
You’ve just opened a brand new restaurant Clerkenwell Grind, what else can we expect from you/Grind in the coming months?
We’ve got a one or two sites planned to launch early next year, and a few more in the pipeline for 2017 so we’re definitely not slowing down anytime soon!