Inside: Pimento Tearooms

What would you say if you were told that at the age of 28 you’d still be working in the same place you worked when you were 14? Emily Braybrooke finds out…

Photo: Emily Braybrooke

Photo: Emily Braybrooke

Jessica Pimm never thought that she would still be working in the same place she did at 14, but now she couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out.

Nestled between the many independent shops and cafes on Lincoln’s Steep Hill is Pimento Tearooms. With its vintage-style and mint green front, it has been in business for 27 years and, for the majority of those, has been solely vegetarian and vegan.

Having got to know the manager from years of visiting, a 14-year-old, Jess began her first job here.

She said: “There’s even graffiti up in the attic from when I was eight and me and my family used to come.”

Jess never left her job as a waitress at Pimento, and even worked here while studying drama at the University of Lincoln.

Four and a half years ago, however, the previous owner decided to retire and Jess knew she couldn’t let go of her beloved tearoom, as it had become such a major part of her life.

The decision to buy out the tearoom relied mainly on emotion according to Jess, who said: “I’ve never had another job in my life so it’s got quite a lot of sentiment.”

PimentoJesscrop

Photo: Emily Braybrooke

Being a vegetarian herself, Jess believes keeping Pimento vegetarian, vegan and gluten free was a no brainer.

She said: “It’s a niche market and it’s good food. Plus people don’t like change.”

When you read a menu in most restaurants, there may only be a couple of options for people leading a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, or for people with dietary requirements, leaving people feeling restricted on what they can eat.

 

Boasting a menu that is entirely made up of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free food is something that Jess feels makes Pimento unique.

Photo: Emily Braybrooke

Photo: Emily Braybrooke

She said:  “People who have these requirements appreciate the tearoom because there is so much choice for them.

“We’ve always got at least four gluten free cakes at a time, at least four or five vegan cakes and most of our mains are vegan and gluten free at the same time.”

In recent years, there seems to be more people who are gluten free and vegan and a lot more places cater for this. Jess said she sees this reflected in her customers, as more people now head to Pimento specifically searching for somewhere to fulfil their lifestyle or dietary needs.

“I think a lot more people are becoming vegan and vegetarian because they have more access to information about food and the meat and dairy industry”, she said. “Five or ten years ago we didn’t really know much about our food but now it’s everywhere, especially with the internet.”

Photo: Emily Braybrooke

Photo: Emily Braybrooke

Although more eateries may be catching on to different needs, Jess doesn’t see this as a threat, adding that their long-term experience puts them “ahead of the game”.

As well as serving good food that caters to this lifestyle, Jess believes that using good, local ingredients is just as important as the dish itself.

All of the main dishes on Pimento’s menu are made on site, as are some of the cakes. However, home bakers who are local to the area make some cakes and the rest of the sweet treats.

“All of our veg comes from a veg shop round the corner, our teas and coffee come from the tea merchant across the road and we use a local cheese supplier.”

While the food is obviously an essential part of running a tearoom, for Jess the customers are the best part, and having a good relationship with them is essential.

She said: “I know a lot of the customers really well and they’re what make you want to do it.

“There’s 27 years of people coming in and a lot of them have watched me grow up as well.

“A lot of the customers that I see have had children who I’ve seen since a pregnant belly, to six or seven years old so that’s really nice.”

With the increasing number of visitors to this historic city and more interest in the vegan lifestyle, Pimento Tearooms will surely be a business that continues to bloom and grow just as the city it sits in does.