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When we first featured Kent’s own Dynamic Dame, Kelly Holmes, on the cover of the third edition of KWIB magazine, we knew she was plotting and planning to create a unique venue in her hometown of Hildenborough. What we didn’t realise was just how amazing that vision would turn out to be.

In 2004, during the Athens Olympics, Kelly Holmes became a household name for winning double gold in the 800m and 1500m finals. A national hero came back to the UK to an amazing welcome, especially from the residents of Hildenborough. Jump forward 11 years and Kelly is once again making an impact on her local community.

Her vision to create a unique destination venue on the site of a sweet shop/newsagents where, back in 1983 she worked a paper round, (and also satisfied her sweet tooth cravings) became a reality late in 2014. With the determination and focus of an Olympic Champion, she overcame numerous obstacles. She site-managed the whole rebuild and design along with the help of John Barnett. She has even been seen behind the counter of her vision, Café 1809, Hildenborough (Pronounced one eight oh nine in memory of her competitor number in Athens 2004).

We thought it was time to catch up with Kelly, to discover just what this vision was all about! As coffee snobs, we arrived slightly early to test out whether the coffee passed the test. As it did, we decided to hang around and have a chat with Kelly. It was the third time we have interviewed her in different stages of her own business development career over the past five years!

The Café has a warm feel to it as you walk through the door and you can tell that attention to detail has been in the forefront of planning. The décor is modern, with stylish, quirky twists, such as the table legs that are all different and look like they come from upcycled metal machinery. The high ceiling doesn’t take away from the intimacy that’s created, it just adds to the overall atmosphere. Outside, to the rear of the café in the seating area, there are hooks for dog’s leads, water bowls, bike racks and plenty of tables scattered around the sun trap.

“The Café has become what I would call a destination Café” Kelly tells us, “I am thrilled that people are travelling from all over the county to pop in.” The clients that Café 1809 is attracting vary from Mums stopping by after the school run, walkers and cyclists taking a break on their journey, to friends meeting for lunch and passing time enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and not to mention the appealing choice of food and snacks available. If you were thinking there would be a lack of sweet stuff, don’t panic! Fresh cakes and sweet treats are on display, which, considering Kelly is known for having a sweet tooth, isn’t a surprise!

Café 1809 is a place you could easily lose time in, especially with the launch of the Beauty Room on the first floor and the option to take part in exercise classes, including baby yoga for those ‘flexible’ infants. No space is wasted and there are options to hold meetings, seminars, corporate events, or simply go and relax and lose yourself soaking up the atmosphere. Be aware though, during times of the year when events such as Wimbledon are taking place, the space may well be transformed to match the event. Anyone for tennis?

Café 1809, Old Florence Place, 152-154 Tonbridge Road,
Hildenborough, Kent, TN11 9HW
Tel: 01732 667500
Twitter: @Cafe1809

by Hilary Steel

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