Shops are open once again and the Watford Observer has joined forces with Watford Borough Council to encourage people to shop local and support businesses that have been through such a challenging time in the past 12 months.

The connection to Watford and the community is what has made the LP Café a “success to us”.

That’s the opinion of Leila Simpson, who opened the doors to the speciality coffee shop that sells records with her partner Paul Terris in November 2013.

The idea for the café, which is at 173 The Parade, had been born on a holiday to Italy the previous year.

Leila said: “Wherever my partner Paul and I would go on holiday he would insist on doing two things, go to a local sporting event and visit a local record store. These two things he believes are ingredients to really get to know a place

“A trip to Naples in 2012 took us to Fonoteca, a record shop which also housed a bar. Having a long history of working in music retail, opening a record store was always the goal for Paul, and while drinking at the bar in Italy a dream for both of us was born. The vision was a coffee shop not a bar and in our own home town."

The LP Cafe is at 173 The Parade

The LP Cafe is at 173 The Parade

Since then, Leila and Paul have prided themselves on getting to know their customers and supporting creative talent in the area,

Leila said: “We have built lasting relationships with our customers, taking time to get know people and their tastes. Music is such a great thing to bring people together and we love getting to know people and their tastes in records and coffee.

“Watford has such a creative vibe that we love being a small part of, it’s such a pleasure to be able to offer a platform for local artists and entrepreneurs to collaborate and use our space. In the past we have housed photography exhibitions, vintage clothes sales and many a live music performance."

Watford Observer:

Asked what she attributes the success of the business to, Leila responded: “I believe that it’s our connection to our town and community that has made our business a success to us. We have become a part of people’s lives, to be the Saturday morning coffee stop for one family or the monthly record dig for someone else, to see people come back again and again, for new people to find us through recommendations or seek us out as a must visit when in Watford. We are so proud of our shop, meaning something to people, this is success to us.”
The interior of the LP Cafe

The interior of the LP Cafe

Like every other business the coronavirus pandemic forced the LP Café, which has a staff of six, to rethink its plans and adapt.

“During the lockdown periods we shifted our focus to staying in touch with our customers and sales of records online,” Leila said. “We took the time whilst our doors had to be closed to have a lick of paint and arrange the space to allow for social distancing.

“The pandemic has shown us how to be resilient, to remain open to and adaptable to change. Lots of things in business are out of your control but how you deal with things is, and we’ll always give it a good old go! “