The Bristol cafe that has been supporting NHS staff and families for ten years.

A cafe opposite the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children marks ten years of service this week. The Penfold’s Kitchen team have been described as ‘community heroes’ by a doctor, led by the caring spirit of their owner, Simon Penfold, who goes above and beyond to support the hospital community.

Originally from Dorset, Simon has lived in Bristol since his university years. Now married with children, he originally worked in retail for Snow + Rock but always dreamed of owning his own cafe and jumped at the chance when local hospitality group Caffe Gusto was selling their site on Upper Maudlin Street opposite the children’s hospital and the Bristol Royal. Nursing in 2013.

“It was not easy at all,” he said. “The first two years I had to sell my house to move on and then a large Costa opened inside the hospital, but then gradually we built over the years and our relationship with the hospital grew and grew. They’ve kept us going, really.”

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Penfold’s Kitchen offers discounts to NHS staff and hosts temporary events in the evenings where departments come together and eat. It has also offered barista training in the past to teach workers how to make latte art.

The team(Image: Pensfold Kitchen)

“When Covid happened, like everyone in hospitality, we thought ‘we’re done’. They sent me a video of the ED consultants getting everyone together and they said ‘okay, over the next few months we have two challenges, keeping Penfold’s Kitchen running and beating Covid. They showed me this and it was in pieces, it was unbelievable.”

Staffing a team of eight, including Simon and Paola Di Bella as manager, the cafe has developed a symbiotic relationship with the entire hospital community, both NHS staff and parents of children who are patients at the children’s hospital. It sells cakes, pastries, toasties and sandwiches, as well as excellent coffee provided by Clifton Coffee Roasters, which is run by two of Simon’s best friends, and has been using the same four local vendors for a decade.


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