A Chat with Roll For The Soul

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This place makes perfect sense. A little haven from the shiny corporate stuff nearby, Roll For The Soul champions community, great veggie food, quality drinks and an inclusive, informal atmosphere.

This is Bristol’s answer to Look Mum No Hands in London and Mojo in San Francisco; a place by cyclists, for cyclists. But you don’t have to be a cyclist to take refuge here. Although it’s probably time you bought a bike.

We asked Rob, owner of Bristol’s very own community bike cafe, a few questions.

What’s the story of how Roll For The Soul came about?

It was inspired by two things: The Bristol Bike Project and Bristol Cycle Festival. I used to volunteer at the Bike Project a lot, and it’s a wonderful place. There are people from all sorts of backgrounds there, but it’s a great leveller when you work on bikes together.

I got a lot from it, and I wanted to create something with some of the same atmosphere in the city centre, but with a social space as well (hence the cafe). And Bristol Cycle Festival is a great week every summer, where different groups from Bristol’s cycling community come together to celebrate pedal power.

I wanted to try to capture that all year round, rather than just for nine days.

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What’s the best thing about doing what you do?

Difficult to pick one thing. I guess the stuff that I get most joy from is, in no particular order; the people I work with; fixing bikes; feeling that we run the business with a pretty clear conscience and (just about) manage to survive; having a lovely bunch of regulars who obviously like what we do enough to come back.

What do you love most about Bristol?

The fact that people have energy to make things happen. People don’t tend to moan that “there’s no X, Y or Z”, they just get on and make X, Y and Z themselves. The Bike Project and the Cycle Festival are good examples of that. As is the DIY music scene. I’ve lived in a few other cities and never found that to the same extent. It’s very inspiring.

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What are your favourite independent places in Bristol?

Coffee-wise we have two brilliant neighbours, in Full Court Press Coffee and Small Street Espresso. They not only serve excellent coffee, they’re also lovely folks who’ve helped us out when we’ve needed it. Otherwise, I guess I’d say, Cafe Kino, who – I hope they won’t mind me saying – are kind of kindred spirits. And I love The Cube. But there are many more. That energy that I spoke about means that Bristol is very rich in independents.

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What on your menu would you recommend to a first-time customer?

I tend to ask people how hungry they are.

Medium hungry: soul burger.Very hungry: mezze.Very, very hungry: everything wrap (falafel, halloumi and roasted veg).

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Any big plans for the future?

Nothing very grand I’m afraid! Keep trying to do what we’re doing, and slowly get better at it. Sometimes even that feels very challenging, so we keep our aspirations in check!

Facebook: RftSBristol/ Twitter: @just_ground

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Wriggle | Award-winning app for food drink and fun in Bristol, Brighton & London.

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