By Ellie Philpotts
Despite Cardiff’s recent surge of new companies bursting into existence (not just reserved to food, we’re talking everything from mini media moguls to estate agents), the area where we students congregate doesn’t always experience this for itself. That is, until brand new business The Pomegranate opened its doors, handily positioned on the path we take every day en route to uni.
The Pomegranate is a quirky jazz bar/cafe hybrid, not something you’re likely to already be acquainted with in Cardiff. They only set up on 62 Park Place last week (25th January), but already the response is looking like an overwhelmingly positive one. So, off I went to see the place for myself and interview the head honchos, brothers Rhys and Hywel Jenkins, all in the name of Quench Food. Here’s the general gist!
Ellie – Hello and thanks for agreeing to put up with Quench Food’s questions! Well done for everything you’ve done so far, it looks amazing. Can you give an overview of what The Pomegranate is all about?
Hywel – We’re focusing on three main things – coffee, jazz and a bar. So that’s coffee-shop-style-food and drink during the day, with alcohol available from 5pm, as well as regular live music throughout the week. We’re open from 8:30am til 8pm, except on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays when we close at 11.
Ellie – So who’s been the brains behind the business?
Rhys – I came up with the idea last year, and now Hywel and I are the co-owners, but we couldn’t have done it without my fiancée Sarah, our sister Becky and so many other people we know.
Hywel – It’s very much a family business (and we’re Cardiff born and bred!)
Ellie – Nice to have some extra pairs of hands – what are you up to when you’re not running The Pomegranate? It’s impressive that you’re only 22 and 23!
Rhys – I did Undergraduate Law at Cardiff Uni, then was VP Education 2014-2015, now I’m on a Bar Professional Training Course – unsurprisingly also at Cardiff!
Hywel – By day, I’m a photographer, so at some points I was juggling working at various Fashion Weeks abroad, with getting The Pomegranate started. Now, all of the team’s roles compliment each-other – I’ve got a background in social media and marketing anyway, while Rhys does things like accounts and maintenance. As we grow, we’re balancing our studies and job with developing The Pomegranate’s branding and finding our feet more.
Ellie – Sounds like a recipe to success! How would you sum up the style?
Hywel – The Pomegranate is loosely based on the 1920s, with a speakeasy feel – comfortable and homely. We’re decorated in quite a vintage way, with the antiques dotted around mainly from our family and friends.
Ellie – It certainly looks the part – can you describe it in three words?
Hywel – Chilled, relaxing environment. Mellow in the day, then livelier in the evenings.
Ellie – What made you decide on this location?
Hywel – It’s perfect for the student population, which our pricing aims to reflect, as we’re not unnecessarily expensive. We like being both tucked-away and central – we’re easy to find, but keep some originality. The venue itself is also accessible, such as having disabled access and toilets.
Ellie – I know it’s early days, but are there are any plans on the horizon to expand?
Hywel – Overall, we want to build the business and become embedded within the scene, but still keep the emphasis around our jazz and coffee. We don’t want The Pomegranate to just be a fad – we’re keen to maintain the ‘hidden gem’ feel and hold onto a steady flow of customers.
We’re thinking about ways to improve the decor and menu. Food-wise, we currently focus on sandwiches, wraps, paninis, drinks and light snacks, but will be branching into bigger lunchtime meals, like soup, jacket potatoes and a wider range of cake. We’re also hoping to add a wall with brass instruments. Altogether, it’s been a positive response so far, but we’re just adjusting to what the customer wants.
Hywel – Jazz is our passion, and so is keeping it local. So a lot of our performers are students at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama just over the road, although sometimes we have more established acts, like The Bandits (a Cardiff-based jazz group). We’re lucky to have a diverse music scene in the city, and The Pomegranate wants to make the best of that, so we’re happy to employ freelancers. We also don’t have a constant loop of the same music – we’re flexible in that sense. At the moment, our live music The Pom Sessions which is free entry, is only from 8:30pm, but we’re hoping to get a pianist at lunchtimes too.
Ellie – Well thanks both, and best of luck with the future!
And there we have the main lowdown on this exciting new venture – something to spruce up that middle bit between Cathays and the city centre (not the most geographically precise description, I’m sorry!) while transporting music fans to a time bygone, and keeping the caffeine connoisseurs among us very much in the present. With a palpable uniqueness, charming furnishing and all the energy needed to kick-start a new project, it seems The Pomegranate is one Cardiff students and beyond will be becoming regulars at regardless of the time of day.