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Grangetown goes Wild about new cafe

Lauren Saunders has opened her vegan cafe Wild Thing at 104 Clare Road - so it's time to take a look at the new business, which has already proved popular since it opened last week.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 26 and from Bridgend. I moved to Cardiff after feeling a strong sense of the word ‘Hiraeth’ whilst studying in London for university. Since moving back to Wales I have become extremely patriotic, wanting to stay in Wales forever and join the amazing people who are making incredible things happen here. I’m a passionate vegan who wants to show how tasty eating vegetables can be. I’m a lover of supporting independent businesses especially those who have a social aim! zassionate vegan who wants to show how tasty eating vegetables can be. I’m a lover of supporting independent businesses especially those who have a social aim!

Q How long have you been trying to get Wild Thing off the ground?
I started planning in January 2018. It started with an Instagram account - sharing pictures of food that I made in my tiny kitchen at home, it developed into business planning, recipe testing, property searching and now here I am!

Q Why have you picked Grangetown?
Grangetown was the first area I lived in Cardiff when I moved here three years ago, so it’s always felt like my Cardiff home. The area has such a strong sense of community – I could tell that when signing the lease at the agency, the staff were so excited about the cafe opening – I knew that I had chosen the right spot. The area has such an amazing mix of independent businesses and I’m excited for Wild Thing to be the first 100% vegan cafe here. Grangetown is vibrant and multicultural with a strong sense of identity – everything you want from a city neighbourhood!

Q What sort of menu are you offering? The menu focuses on breakfast and lunch. Serving natural unprocessed food. It showcases local seasonal fruit and vegetables. For breakfast think all the classics but made in unconventional ways. Fluffy waffles, pancake stacks, porridge with all the wonderful toppings. My favourite savoury breakfast dish is the smashed black beans, topped with cashew cream cheese and pickled red onion. The cafe also serves lunch options of big hearty salad bowls and warming soups with Riverside Sourdough. There will be lots of gorgeous cake and Cardiff roasted coffee (Hard Lines) on offer too.

Q What is “plant-based food” – explain to those of us who don’t know?
Plant based food consists of fruit,vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes. No animal products so no meat, dairy, eggs, honey. I use the word “plant-based” to describe the cafe as vegan foods can also be ‘ultra processed.’ Wild Thing cafe only sells natural unprocessed plant based food. This is the type of vegan food that I like to eat and I feel there was a gap for this in Cardiff.

Q Say you’re not a vegan but still interested in trying it out, what would you recommend?
I would say go for the pancake stack! In case you are wondering they are served with pure maple syrup, homemade peanut butter, grilled bananas and juicy fruit compote. I think they can win over even the biggest vegan sceptic.

Wonderful to have a bloody tasty, healthy vegan breakfast made by lovely people and bump into mates on a Sunday - only 5mins from my door too! Croeso i Grangetown @wildthingcdf

— Claire Vaughan (@pixieglas) February 10, 2019

Q You have said you want to be more than a cafe but have a commitment to the community and projects – tell us more of what you’d like to offer/be involved in?
Before planning Wild Thing I worked for The Big Issue – so my goals have been focused on societal change as opposed to just profit! Having worked in the third sector – collaboration was always encouraged. I’m excited to collaborate in so many ways in order to to contribute to the community in Grangetown.

I’ve set the cafe three goals – to get more people eating veg; to reduce environmental impact and to tackle food poverty. The first two goals fe are through the menu, which is filled with local seasonal produce based on a diet that has the lowest environmental impact. The third goal to tackle food poverty is something I am really passionate about. Eating good food should not be a privilege! This is one of the areas which can allow a lot community engagement. I’m so keen to work with the Community Gateway project, for example, to deliver these projects to educate around healthy eating on a budget, run cooking classes and a community kitchen. I also I have a vision of a Grangetown Community Fridge in the future. I have lots of plans and strongly think that business should be used to create social change.

Q What would you say are the misconceptions about veganism?
I think the rapid rise in veganism has formed a strong opposition of critics and sceptics. I’d say that these are some of the misconceptions. -People often think that vegan diets are really complex. You hear people say “oh you’re vegan, what do you eat?” As if vegan food is really specialist. However, it’s just simple- eating vegetables, fruit and grains, and no animal products. People eat these food items every day! It doesn’t need to require lots of fancy ingredients, just simple veg.

You often hear that veganism is a ‘trend/fad.’ However, for me I went vegetarian at 11 and then developed to vegan whilst studying at university, so I have lived a meat free and then vegan lifestyle for the majority of my life. I think veganism and individuals reducing meat and dairy intake is vital for the protection of the planet and for our healths - and not just a fad. People often think that veganism is expensive.This is not the case. As I previously mentioned I turned vegan whilst at university and was on a serious budget! I used to eat a lot of couscous, rice, reduced vegetables,oats (which I used to make with water) and tins of chickpeas! My food shopping would cost a few pounds- I was very thrifty. Being on a budget probably helped me to stay vegan those first few months because I couldn’t afford things like cheese, quorn, eggs - which are more expensive than grains and veggies.

Q Is Cardiff generally getting better for offering vegan options?
Yes the vegan food scene in Cardiff is growing so quickly. I love how many new vegan businesses have opened up in the past few years and I have been inspired by them to do the same myself! Obviously you have places like Vegetarian Food Studio that have been around for years and is still one of my favourite places to eat in the city. I think there is still room for lots more 100% vegan businesses and I think that there should be vegan options in every food place in Cardiff!

Q Would the cafe ever consider opening in the evenings in future, is there scope?
I would love the cafe to be open in the evenings along the line. I want to start with some one off evening events then hopefully in the future I can extend the opening hours to offer daily evening meals too!

Wild Thing, 104 Clare Road (on the corner of Stafford Road), Grangetown, Cardiff CF11 6RT is open from 8am-5pm (Wednesday to Saturday) and 9am-4pm (Sundays), closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Follow Instagram @wildthingcardiff; Twitter @wildthingcdf; Facebook @wildthingcardiff This is adapted from the article which we published in the winter edition of Grangetown News.

Seasonal street markets start

Grangetown is holding seasonal street markets aimed at showcasing craft, design and food businesses.

The latest Grangetown World Market - with more stalls - took place in St Patrick's school car park off Havelock Place and Bishop Street last December.

Another event - a Thursday evening market - is being proposed for May.

Photos: NG Photography - of one of the markets in December 2017.

Self-taught jewellery maker Dr Amy Yau, of Ameow Designs, also a lecturer in marketing at Cardiff Business School, said: "The market supports local entrepreneurs and businesses who would like to test-trial products and spread awareness of their products and services, so it's perfect for small local businesses."

"It's very important in the world of fast fashion, faster deliveryand cheap, mass-produced goods to actually slow down, be more mindful and purchase gifts with more meaning and that are more sustainable in terms of design and not just focus on being 'on trend.'

"Apart from supporting local businesses it is also knowing that the maker has put their creativity, skill and hard work into making that piece which is unique, handmade and a one-off is something special."

Rosie Cripps of Community Gateway said: "Local and independent businesses employ more people per square metre than large chain stores and they stick around when the going gets tough - by supporting local producers we're supporting the wider community.

"We're really pleased to have launched new entrepreneurs at our first market and we're delighted that 75% of visitors said they would shop locally as a result of Grangetown World Market.

"Grangetown Community Action and Cardiff University have shown that the more we can do to support the local economy together, the better."

Ameow Designs. Photo courtesy: Keith Hursthouse.

Steve Duffy, of Grangetown Community Action, said: "We had a fantastic response to our first markets - it's looking to offer something boutique and distinctive for Grangetown.  

"In the long term we hope this will boost the local business district. This is all about encouraging people to shop locally - and to see there are some really creative independents right on their doorstep."

See the full project website on to find out more.

The first market was held in July 2017. Photo: Keith Hursthouse.

Indie shopping project gets under way

A community project is getting under way which aims to improve the shopping experience in Grangetown.

The hope is to promote the best of the area's independent stores and also organise a "shop local" campaign.

As a first step, four post-graduate marketing students from Cardiff Business School surveyed shoppers and business owners to get some opinions.

They worked with Grangetown Community Action to work on some ideas and plans.

The project is being organised through Cardiff University's Community Gateway programme. The MSc students worked full-time through the summer of 2016 on it - and it followed involvement of 200 undergraduate students in coming up with initial ideas.

What is the aim? To help boost the shopping experience in Grangetown.

How? By looking at developing a "shop local campaign" and working with businesses to help promote shopping in Grangetown among local residents. One idea was to develop a local business forum and also look at ideas like branding and a loyalty card. We're also looking at featuring local businesses a lot more for free on the Grangetown community website, on social media and in the Grangetown community newspaper.

What is happening now? To start, shoppers and shops/businesses were asked for their views and what they'd like to see and what some of the issues they're facing. There was a face-to-face questionnaire, which was also available online. (1) Out of this, the first programme for the business forum was developed, with the support of Tramshed Tech and business mentor Robert Firth. This included free training opportunities for start-ups and existing local businesses - and there was interest from a wide variety. (2) A seasonal market involving crafts and street food, with an emphasis on local entreprises, was launched in Summer 2017; a second successful market was held in December 2017, with the involvement of local volunteers, Riverside market social enterprise and St Patrick's school. (3) The forum also came up with the idea of an independent Grangetown business map, based on the idea of the Get Lost In Cardiff map produced by city centre arcade businesses. The project successfully applied for funding from Cardiff City Region. More than 21 local businesses contributed towards the map, which is being designed by the Get Lost In Cardiff and will be launched early in 2018. The map features Grangetown shop local branding, which has already been used with the market.

Post-graduate students Annie, April, FeiFei and Joanna helped with research for the project

There are a number of diverse independent shops in Grangetown that have been in the area for years. Being so close to the city centre, and with more and more chain stores being established, there is greater risk that some of these shops will not stand the test of time. But also some residents living here - or new to the area - may not know what's on their doorstep, especially some of the specialist shops and also new businesses which have opened.  

In light of the council's recent regeneration of a key Clare Road/Penarth Road shopping junction in Grangetown, in which businesses are having their shop-fronts renovated, Grangetown Community Action is looking at helping to develop an online and 'in person' Business Forum to encourage businesses to collaborate, cross-promote and showcase the best of Grangetown.

Anyone interested in more information, please email

The full project website on has more details, is developing an online directory, features about local businesses - and will be home for an online version of the business map.

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