Inspired by Scandinavian culture, popular ‘social cafe’ Fika, which has proved a hit with people in south Liverpool, is to open a second venue close to the city’s waterfront. Tony McDonough reports
Fika coffee shop in Wavertree is to open a second venue on Liverpool’s waterfront and will be offering training to disadvantaged young people.
Tony Grice opened Fika after spending time in Sweden. It draws inspiration from Scandinavian culture in which people take fika each day. It means to take time out to have coffee and cake while chatting to someone about life in general, improving social interaction and combating loneliness.
Tony, who worked at the well know Caeser’s Palace restaurant in Liverpool city centre in the 1990s, has faced his own challenges in life. Growing up in Toxteth, he said he “knows what it’s like to be hungry”.
Now he opening a second Fika outlet at Liverpool Watersports Centre. The building is owned by Merseyside charity Local Solutions. It supports disadvantaged young people through its hostel service, offering lunch and offering them training as baristas and catering workers at the cafe.
“I know what it’s like to have no food in the house, being in trouble with the police at a young age and finding life chances very difficult,” said Tony. “That is why I want to give these young people, who’ve similarly had a tough start in life, a chance to get into work and build a CV for their future.
“I loved how passionate Local Solutions were about what they do and all the help they give to people so it was massive for me to go into partnership with them and support them too in what is an unbelievable location.”
He has carried out an a significant amount of work for those less fortunate in his own Wavertree community. During the pandemic he handed out more than 3,000 food parcels and ran the not-for-profit Fika Festival for 1,000 people. He is also set to launch a free tea and toast morning for elderly people at his main cafe in hope “it gives them a lifeline”.
Local Solutions chief executive Tom Harrison, added: “It’s a lovely partnership and there is a lot of care going in there. Fika is linking in with our mentoring, young persons support and accommodation teams to offer employment. It will enable young people to work and experience that next sort of possibility.
“We’re trying to empower some of our young people to feel connected to their city and the opportunity in that city.”