Balance Cafe Waterloo use counter top display from WBC

In the Spotlight: Balance Cafe, Lower Marsh

Lower Marsh is home to one of London’s oldest and much-loved market streets. Steeped in history and flanked by both Waterloo station and the reputable Old Vic Theatre, Lower Marsh has attracted a host of shoppers, visitors and passing trade since the mid-nineteenth century. Over the past decade or so, the area has undergone massive gentrification.

Thankfully, pay a visit today and you’ll still find the odd ‘greasy spoon’ caf, budget supermarket, charity shop or cobbler sandwiched in between fancy eateries and hipster coffee shops. It’s here that Balance Cafe has made it’s home. We were fortunate to be able to use their popular cafe as a backdrop for this year’s Counter Top Display Feature. We dropped by to ask them a few questions about their cafe and see how they are using WBC’s countertop display offering, to inspire sales. This month, In the Spotlight: Balance Cafe, Lower Marsh Street.

It’s all about the Balance

You might think a cafe, is a cafe, is a cafe. But when your market is saturated and the competition heavy, whatever you can do to stand out, becomes a test in survival of the fittest. It’s fair to say that one of the first thing’s you notice upon entering Balance Cafe, is it’s vibrancy in colour. Walk by it, and I defy any true foodie not to stop. It demands attention, particularly in terms of food presentation.

If you’ve ever been sceptical about the importance that good quality display plays both in footfall and direct sales, find a cafe that lays out its food the way Balance does. There’s is a lesson in display by abundance. The sheer scale of food: soups, quiches, pastries, sandwiches; the variety of superfood salads, including a salmon and avocado dill, with rocket, spinach, radish and poppy seeds. It’s all there, and it adds to the vibrant array of colour and variety.

Balance offers a coffee, juice bar and a ‘Make Your Own Salad’ station. In spite of the scale, the cakes, salads and ‘fusion street foods’ are presented with elegance. Not least in part to the clever use of counter top display and risers which give prominence to produce and entice you to buy.

Cakes on display at Balance Cafe, Waterloo: WBC counter top display

WBC has a range of cake stands and cake domes at wholesale prices, perfect for confectionary display

BRIX cubes (BR004) are part of WBC's BRIX modular display range and act as perfect 'dump bins' for fruit and crisps.

BRIX cubes (BR004) are part of WBC’s BRIX modular display range and act as perfect ‘dump bins’ for fruit and crisps.

WBC has a range of boards and platters perfect for bakery good, charcuterie or table display

WBC has a range of boards and platters perfect for bakery good, charcuterie or table display

WBC's popular wall mounted menu holder is as eye-catching as it is versatile. An effortlessly stylish signage solution.

WBC’s popular wall mounted menu holder is as eye-catching as it is versatile. An effortlessly stylish signage solution.

Big displays done well are so visually dramatic that they beg to be eaten. In this case choose serving platters from WBC

We love the way Balance create huge salad displays that you just can’t ignore. WBC have a variety of display containers that will help you do the same!

Good communication sells, so don't leave yours to chance. Shop WBC's huge range of retail signage and ticketing.

Good communication sells, so don’t leave yours to chance. Shop WBC’s huge range of retail signage and ticketing.

Wholesale Retail Risers - WBC Retail Supplies and furniture UK

Build attractive window displays using retail risers made from wood, marble, metal or acrylic. Creating height gives products prominence.

5 minutes with Balance owner Gengiz Arif

What is your busiest time of the day?

Our busiest time of day is between the hours of 11.30-14.30pm. We attract London’s lunchtime crowd which ranges from business types in suits to train workers from nearby Waterloo station, and everyone in between.

Does balance have a specific target audience?

People who’s fitness is a priority to them love our cafe because of the fresh salads available. There’s a salad boom that’s reinvigorating the lunchtime market, with many foodies particularly amongst the millennial generation, wanting food that emulates their clean health eating lifestyle.

Your website describes ‘Fresh Clean Eating’ How is convenience fast food lunch time eating changing?

People are becoming more aware of what they are putting into their body.  They are choosing healthier options rather than the processed foods that are on the market. In order to survive, cafes need to respond to this evolving trend. It’s out with the fried chicken and in with the quinoa.

What do you always have on your counter and what’s your best seller?

Our cake display. Which might seem incongruous with our healthy shoppers but almost all our cakes our vegan. Chocolate & avocado fudge cake is a top seller. Cake always gets people through the door.

How would you define your style and interior?

Industrial timeless design that is chic.

What are your thoughts on WBC’s BRIX Modular Retail Display range and counter top collection. 

WBC’s range is very simple but effective in design. The BRIX system is clever because it allows us versatility in the way we build our shelves. One season we can have them hanging from the ceiling with rods, and the next used as floor standing units. It is the most flexible system I’ve come across.

In a growing competitive sector, how does Balance create a point of difference offering?

It’s all in the combination of the products we offer: from cold press juices and smoothies to the kind of artisan coffee we serve. Seasonal healthy choice of salads for those that are health conscious is essential for our trade. Backed up with a variety of meats, fish & award winning sandwiches for the more traditional. Of course, we wouldn’t be who we are without a bit of naughtiness thrown in with our vast range of sweet offerings. All are hand made and delivered by our cake supplier.

What role do you think counter top display plays in café – culture?

Counter Top Display is increasingly important because the market is so competitive, how you present your food is key. Serving bowls, platters, retail risers, trays, baskets and pans, WBC have everything under one roof. That’s why we love working with them, their products are so creative and versatile.

With regards to creating a retail space, what is one single important point to share with people that could be instrumental in creating a fabulous customer experience?

Great customer service. You can have the greatest produce in the world on offer but if you can’t deliver it you’re onto a losing battle. There’s just too much competition out there. Lose a customer once and you rarely get a second chance to impress them again.

Are there plans to open more Balance cafes?

Watch this space! We are considering a central kitchen which will not only deliver delicious clean eating to offices, but also to your homes as well.


There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Keith Parkins at 12:51 am

    This reads like an advertising feature without the warning at the top.

    Visiting Lower Marsh I noticed a new coffee shop.

    I looked in, asked a man behind the salad counter the soup. Scrawled on brown paper Soup of the Day. He rudely told me to ask at the front.

    I asked. Mushroom soup. I said I may pop back later.

    Later I returned.

    Mushroom and chestnut soup in Balance had sounded good when I looked in earlier. I double checked it was still available and that it was mushroom and chestnut, not chestnut mushrooms. Sounds good.

    Sadly when served weak and watery and lukewarm almost cold. The toasted bread soggy, as they had already put the butter on the toast.

    I ordered a cappuccino. Served too hot.

    The menu says we do not serve coffee hot, thus absolutely no excuse.

    The coffee is not doing the reputation of Origin any favours.

    The salad looked enticing except it looked no different to when I looked in much earlier. Not therefore so enticing.

    A coffee shop trying to be trendy and failing miserably.

    • Maria Tross at 10:12 am

      Hi Keith, thanks for your comment. The piece is not an advertising feature, but a case study we created based on how Balance Cafe used our products: the BRIX Modular Display range, countertop display and signage within their cafe, with photos of how our products can be used within real retail environments for inspiration. It’s a shame you didn’t have a pleasant experience, but it might be best to feed back to the team at Balance regarding your experience as we are only their retail supplies & furniture supplier. Best, Maria

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