Bruce and Luke are a pair to be reckoned with.
The entrepreneurs recently opened a coffee and doughnuts store in Keswick — their second in the county — and have a thriving coffee roasting business and wholesalers.
They are celebrating their 10th anniversary in hospitality, having started out when they took over the reins of a cafe in Carlisle when the previous owners relocated to London.
Luke admitted the learning curve has been steep. “Neither of us had run our own business before but we liked the sound of it,” he said.
“We knew there would be some challenges, but we weren’t quite prepared for the huge ups and downs that followed. Initially, we adopted a beg, borrow and steal approach to get the business up and running, along with help from family and friends.
“Every time we encountered a problem, we dealt with it by saying let’s address this, solve it and then make what we’re doing better.”
The first Bruce and Luke’s coffee shop opened its doors in 2014 in Carlisle, serving its own brand of coffee and doughnuts.
Luke said: “The timing was perfect. The cool coffee scene hadn’t really arrived in Cumbria so we were introducing something different.
“We felt that adding doughnuts to our offering would give the brand a friendly, fun vibe that injected some of our personality in and kept any pretentiousness out. And anyway, who doesn’t love doughnuts?”
The success of the shop inspired the duo to announce ambitious plans for the future of the business, with the aim of 100 stores by 2029.
As they began to look for their next venue, a proprietor in Keswick approached them. Luke said: “The location was perfect but our bank didn’t have the right product for us.”
They were advised to talk to Enterprise Answers, a not-for-profit organisation based in Mardale Road, Penrith.
It offers funding to businesses across Cumbria, North Lancashire and the Yorkshire Dales and its chief executive is Grahame Latus.
The second Bruce and Luke’s Coffee shop opened in Keswick in July this year, after a soft launch just before lockdown. Luke said: “COVID was terrifying. Obviously, we had worries and there were new issues to contend with but there’s always something that changes the game you’re playing; you just have to roll with it.
“There was a fantastic reception to the new shop and the support from our social media following has been amazing. During the first few weeks, we had queues outside.”