Nurses feel at home with cafe operation

Vanilla coffee shop: Nurses Suze Goodman, second left, and Sheila Clapham, third left, with Suze's daughter Sophie Hopkins and stepson Matt Goodman.                               PICTURE: STEVE TAYLOR
Vanilla coffee shop: Nurses Suze Goodman, second left, and Sheila Clapham, third left, with Suze's daughter Sophie Hopkins and stepson Matt Goodman. PICTURE: STEVE TAYLOR
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Afternoon tea with TLC is on the menu at a new city cafe.

The Vanilla Coffee Shop at Millhouses is run by two nurses.

Suze Goodman and Sheila Clapham met as young SRNs over 30 years ago and became life-long friends.

There were many times, as they took a well-earned coffee break from their shifts at the King Edward Hospital in the Rivelin Valley, when they would talk about the mutual dream they shared – to one day open their own tearoom.

“People are surprised when they discover nurses are running a cafe. Sheila is still part-time at the Northern General and I am a freelance nurse teacher at Claremont Hospital. I had to give up the practical nursing due to bad back – an occupational hazard,” she says.

“But we think there’s a big cross-over between looking after patients and keeping customers happy.

“Our jobs have taught us a huge amount about building an instant rapport with people and understanding their needs. Nurse training makes perfect coffee shop training!”

Suze spotted their dream premises at 984 Abbeydale Road up for rent from her seat on a bus. They did it up, added a bijou garden at the back stocked with herbs, salads and scented plants and asked some of their kids to help them run it. The women, both 55, are mums of two and stepmums of two.

The cafe is open every day thanks to the help of two members of Suze’s family, Sophie, 24, and Matt, 18, and locally sourced food and drink is on the menu, including Yorkshire Crisps, Sheffield Honey, Catherine’s Choice preserves and Heavenlies Cakes. Vanilla has its own blend of freshly ground coffee which is roasted in Sheffield.

And there’s a retro twist. “We both have fond memories of being taken out for tea by our grannies at Davy’s in Sheffield and the Whitehall in Rotherham,” says Suze.

“We serve old-fashioned treats like iced gem biscuits, Tunnock’s teacakes, Horlicks and Ovaltine alongside hand-made sandwiches and soups, jacket potatoes and salad platters.”

Suze and Sheila are expecting a run on their afternoon teas on Mothers’ Day, when they will be sacrificing their own special day to serve dainty sandwiches, cream scones and chocolates to other mothers. Says Suze: “We’re expecting some pampering when we get home though.”