Kall Kwik in Watford. My favourite kind of business: bustling, friendly, helpful, cheap and right, slap bang in the middle of the local economy. Making things happen for other businesses, almost all of them small or tiny. I wonder if there’s a metric for ‘contribution to the local business ecology’? If Watford’s economy is a network (well, everything else seems to be…) then this little business must be a critical node – so many businesses must depend on its existence for their own survival (or at least their sanity). It also happens to be staffed by a gaggle of super-professional, super-friendly ladies who will make you a cup of tea while they run out your print job. Heart warming.
The Algerian Coffee Stores. An Old Compton Street fixture. I’m no coffee expert (just an addict) and I reckon you can get coffee as good elsewhere, but this place has always felt to me like Soho’s dead centre and the place smells like heaven, not least because of the huge range of fragrant odds-and-ends they sell alongside the coffee, like cinnamon sticks and amazing spiced North African Coffee and big slabs of Chinese compressed tea (what do you do with that, then?). They’ve recently fancied up their web site but they still do a charming and eccentric paper newsletter you should sign up for next time you’re in there and they’ll mail order to anywhere in the world.