Sarah Wareham set up Woodies Diner in the Caerphilly County Borough town of Blackwood with her partner Darren Ingram. Their business based just off the High Street, on the lane to the market and is said to offer a warm and friendly atmosphere.

We spoke to the pair about Woodies and what being an independent business means to them.

How would you describe your business?

Based in the heart of Blackwood, an independent coffee shop set up by a local couple, serving fresh homemade cakes and the finest coffee in Blackwood, as well as a selection of food including Panini’s, hot meals, milkshakes and of course our famous all day breakfast, all served with the personal touch.

What made you decide to set your business up in Blackwood?

A number of reasons. Firstly, being local we wanted to start the kind of coffee shop that we ourselves would want to visit. Also, we felt the town was missing a place to go where the service would be as good as the food. Thirdly, Blackwood is a place that seems to be going places, and is growing and we wanted to be part of that. All of which added up to making Blackwood an ideal location for us, and also Woodies to be ideal for Blackwood.

What is the best bit about your business?

That it is ours, and we can make tweaks and changes as we are always talking with customers, and can see both the business improve, and also the customers enjoying what we offer. Meeting people, and offering jobs to local people, has got to be the most enjoyable part of the job as well.

Do you think there are more independents coming to Blackwood that are thriving ? If so, why?

Yes – there is definitely an uplift of new places opening in the town, and nearly all of which seem to be independent. There is an increase in footfall in the town (which always helps High Street shops) and improvements to Blackwood like the Maxime cinema only increase the status further. Also, the independents can, I believe, offer a more personal and tailored service, of the kind that Blackwood people both look for and appreciate. In addition, the town council and local apprentice services do actively help and encourage us, and it’s great to have that support, as well as the support of people supporting their local businesses and not the bigger chains

What is it that makes your business stand out?

People, service and the quality of produce used. We can offer the best food and beverages, and change them during the year when listening to feedback, and the way we then deliver this to customers ; the staff really make a difference there. Also, offering services such as free WIFI, Swipii customer loyalty scheme, card payments, website with a menu to order from ( and music on site make the experience more enjoyable (as well as allowing customers to earn free food and drink !). Woodies being in the right location and the right size helps us to deliver this. Overall, as we are independent, it means we can allow ourselves to stand out and adapt to customers needs