Venues with a theme. They so often get it wrong, their application of said theme is always egregious to say the least (looking at you, Frankie and Benny’s). Too in your face and as such, somewhat lacking genuine passion and enthusiasm. It tends to be the case for all themed venues, that is of course, until now, because now we have Caffeine & Machine, a new venue where petrolheads can come together and celebrate their passion.
Caffeine & Machine was, up until recently, nothing more than your normal countryside destination pub and restaurant. As is the sad way with British pubs at the moment, business was not great, and as such, the decision was made to sell it. That’s where Phil McGovern comes in. He saw the big old pub as something more. Others may have seen its idyllic setting near Stratford-Upon-Avon as a development opportunity. Perhaps with a view to demolishing the old pub and in its place, building faceless, bland, modern housing. Not Phil though, he saw it and the twelve acres on which it sits as something more. The quirky pub with its split levels, the outbuildings, the huge lawns with rolling, pretty gradients – yes, Phil saw what could be done here.
With a team of talented craftsmen behind him, Phil set about giving the old pub a new lease of life. The paint was refreshed, the driveway was re-gravelled, the shrubbery was trimmed and the grass was cut. Inside, the pub was given a sympathetic restoration so as to not lose any of its charm. No walls were needlessly knocked through, nor has it been filled to capacity with seats. Instead, there is a welcoming mix of chairs, tables and comfy sofas for those who just to have a coffee and relax. Caffeine is in the name after all.
Outside, the pub now proudly displays the C&M logo. Furthermore, the pub looks out onto the new gardens, but you won’t only find flowers. As well as the expected flora you’ll also find a huge tepee in which there is a coffee bar and seating. Outside, there are huge plinths nestled into the hillside on which the exciting cars that visit C&M can park and be admired from.
So what about that theme? There’s no escaping the fact that Caffeine & Machine, as the name suggests, is a place to celebrate the joys of internal combustion. But applying a theme to a venue is such a difficult thing to do well. That’s where C&M is clever. You see, the theme is subtle. There is artwork aplenty, consisting of works that have been carefully chosen for their own individual merit, not because ‘it’s got cars on it, get it on the wall’. There are other touches, too, like the lamps made from old engine parts, or the coat hook made from a cleaned-up Porsche rocker cover. Then there’s the door handle made from a retired camshaft. It’s neat, intriguing little touches that all add up to set the tone for C&M. It’s the subtlety, too. Too many themed places are keen to ram the aforementioned theme down your neck. Not here. C&M puts its arm around you as if to say ‘you’ll like it here, fellow petrolhead’ while also offering an encouraging and welcoming hand to those who have little interest in matters of internal combustion. If you like cars or not, C&M will be enjoyable.
We’ve been to C&M a few times, and there’s one key element we’ve observed that makes the theme work, and that’s the people and the cars they bring. What’s happened here is the creation of a place that’s made better by its attendees. On any given day, you can expect to see the car park filled with all manner of exciting and most importantly varied machinery. From cafe race motorbikes through to classic Ferraris and track-prepped porsches, there’s something for everyone, and if there’s not, the chances are it’ll show up while you’re enjoying a beer, a coffee or a burger.
This is a place that people who like cars (and those who don’t, but just want a nice trip out) can go to and just relax. You can have a meal, you can catch up with friends, you can chill out in the gardens and watch the eclectic machinery roll it and though it all, you can feel happy in your passion for the automotive. Caffeine & Machine is the place we always wanted, but we never thought we could have. But here we are, and we’re so very glad indeed!