Situated in the heart of St Mary Cray village and its historic conservation area Croft Tearoom is a Community Interest Company (CIC) consisting of a Tearoom with local foods and artisan gift shop, outside catering service and community notice board for local information, events and heritage. As a CIC we operate as a commercial company but with social aims, re-investing all of our profits into developing the business and/or projects of benefit to our community.
We offer a real alternative to the larger chains which dominate most High Streets and a return to traditional values. The Croft would not be out of place in London but we chose to locate this little ‘gem’ (as many customers describe us) in an area which needs us more and where we can offer real benefits to our community.
The site, which originally housed a derelict building , was demolished and in its place a new, architecturally designed, ECO building was built using local builders & recycled materials to mirror the style of the 18th century buildings opposite. This created the first of many local employment opportunities as well as a lovely new building and business, which now brings income and people back to what was once a thriving high street.
Since opening in 2009 we’ve employed 13 people (including a young person from the government’s ’Future Jobs Fund’), supported 3 apprenticeships with plans for a 4th and created 8 new volunteering opportunities as well as work experience placements. In keeping with our ethos of supporting our local community these are all local people, some of whom have special needs or are socially disadvantaged.
We support our community in a variety of other ways offering free advertising to local projects and events, emergency services and NHS staff discounts as well as discounted rates to local charities and community groups who wish to hire our facilites. We also provide a wheelchair accessible community toilet as well as hosting a variety of groups and events aimed at engaging underrepresented groups within our community including poetry, book and parents clubs and local interest and history talks.
In addition we only use and sell locally sourced produce, working with over 30 small farmers and independent producers in Kent and the surrounding areas to offer a unique range of high quality foods and artisan gifts.
Not being situated in the high street we don't benefit from foot fall and have worked really hard to nurture and expand our loyal client base turning our business from one that was running at a loss to one that managed a small profit last year and now have plans to build a sustainable future for our business and spread the community love further by securing a second site in a better location.
Sadly, due to a run of bad luck which has included a significant issues with our boiler resulting in substantial water bills as well as the theft of our garden furniture our plans have been blighted and without a cash injection to pay our water bills and fix the boiler we face closure in the next 2 months.
So we're asking our community to help us. Whatever you can give will be greatly appreciated and will help us not only continue our valuable work but lay the foundations for our future growth.