Deuce, Wickets & Coffee
25 August 2014
If you live near Marlborough you’re bound to know The Food Gallery and its great coffee and cuisine. The high standard of coffee is no surprise when you hear how 6 months of development went into getting the winning blend. And if you pop in for a coffee you get a refill for just £1! But what you might not know is that The Food Gallery harbours a former rising sports star.
Bob and Nikki Holman set-up The Food Gallery in 2006 after owning, running and being involved in various other businesses, none of which were retail or food related. They’d done well in their past business ventures, loved eating and drinking so setting up a coffee shop seemed a perfect solution. And it wasn’t just a spur of the moment decision. They spent a long time going round Wiltshire towns and seeing where shopkeepers and office staff went for lunch. They liked Marlborough and when they suggested bringing lunch to them the response was great.
So they rented a shop and Bob spent his days on his bicycle going up and down the high street with lunch in tow. And for those who’ve met Bob you’ll know he’s a sociable man. He soon knew the names of all his customers and their kids, even where they went on holiday. When Bob didn’t turn up on their doorstep during the day they were disappointed not to see him.
But as with all growing businesses it was getting busy back at the shop so Bob couldn’t go out as much, so when he stopped going to his customers they came to him. But that brought new challenges - there was no room to house all their customers and people couldn’t get in, so when 47-48 High Street came available they bit the bullet and moved into it, where they are today. And the rest is history. The Food Gallery is incredibly popular with locals. They cook all meals on the premises and make their own gluten free rolls, cakes and brownies. But if someone does something better they buy it in. So their bread is from Hobbs House and their incredible tasting scotch eggs are sourced locally. And their shop sells stuff that tastes good from the dressing they use in their salads to the honey used on their toast. They provide sandwich platters, cake platters and fresh fruit kebabs for business lunches and have a dedicated mobile number where orders can be placed by text and then picked up. And if you’re stuck for a gift they offer vouchers that can be used on a meal or to buy some of their delicious deli items.
So who is this sporting hero? It’s Bob and it all began when he won a sporting scholarship to Millfield in Somerset. He loves sport and originally set his heart on becoming a tennis pro, qualifying for Junior Wimbledon but never getting there due to illness. He also found himself faced with a quandary – make life all about sport or drink beer and meet girls. He chose the latter and eventually met Nikki over sport (cricket!). Despite this pledge to himself he took up playing hockey for Marlborough where they were National Club Champions for many years, and just missed the cut to get into the team that won the gold medal in Seoul Olympics! He then took up cricket and after many years coaching the game to youngsters, became chairman of the Wiltshire cricket board. Despite recently becoming a grandfather, to beautiful Keira, sport is still his thing and on his days off he plays golf off a 5 handicap and represents the county seniors.
Bob was born in Bury St Edmunds but his father was in the forces so he lived in Cyprus, Ghana, New Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Angola! His life in Wiltshire began when his father bought a home in Chitterne and then the family moved to Great Cheverill. Bob and Nikki now live in All Cannings, although ultimately they would like to live in Marlborough. They have three children Richard, Andrew (the father of Keira) and Katharine, who they hope will take over the helm at the shop so Bob and Nikki can take a step back and be more involved in the strategic side of things!
Spare time isn’t something they have much of but Bob is a community man and is a Director of the Marlborough Area Development Trust and a founding trustee of a fabulous local charity Swift Medics. He will always make time for sport (and doing it better!). Tennis anyone?