Pophams opened its first site in 2017 and, less than two years later, has three to its name, with the latest two opening in the same fortnight.
“We didn’t mean to expand so quickly,” explains Ollie Gold, who runs the business alongside partner Lucy McWhirter and head baker Florin Grama.
“We didn’t mean to have this crazy two weeks where we opened the Hackney site and our Tottenham Court Road take-away store, but it was in such a good location, we couldn’t turn it down.”
In terms of opening the Hackney site, Gold had been looking for somewhere larger to allow his team to develop and innovate, and this site happened to be closer to home, too.
“Lucy and I would walk down this road and pass the restaurants here on the way into Islington every day,” he tells us.
The business has certainly met the target of a larger site, with the Hackney location five times the size of the Islington one.
To help cover the cost of such a large space, Pophams started serving dinner, offering a menu of freshly made artisan pasta that was developed by one of its bakers who had previously run a pasta supper club.
“I know there are some differences, but the skillset for making pastry is much the same as that for making pasta, with mixing and shaping the dough,” Gold says, explaining that while his pastry and pasta teams are currently separate, one day he’d like to intertwine them.
“I think one of the biggest problems with retaining staff in hospitality is that people get bored of repetition, and I’d like to do something about that.”
The site itself feels calm. There’s an open kitchen allowing customers to see pastries being made in the morning, and pasta throughout the afternoon. It features a handful of long tables with benches either side, all made by a local workshop. The design was done by Gold’s partner McWhirter, who tells us she wanted to “lighten everything up while maintaining the industrial feel of a working bakery”.
Gold believes what makes the business stand out is its people.
“We have so many passionate and knowledgeable people working here and that makes it so easy to develop and innovate.
“It’s definitely the team of people here who make the place special.”
Pophams, Richmond Rd, Hackney
Who: Ollie Gold, founder of Pophams (pictured right, credit: Sam Harris).
What: A 1,710 sq ft ground floor unit neighbouring London Fields. This is the second site for Pophams (the first is in Islington) and expands
on its existing bakery business with the inclusion of a dinner service offering fresh artisan pasta. The business specialises in laminated dough.
When: The Hackney site opened on 4 June 2019, two weeks before Pophams opened its third site – a kiosk on Tottenham Court Road.
Where: 197 Richmond Road, Hackney, London E8 3NJ
Why: “We wanted to give the bakers lots of room to develop and innovate and we had outgrown the space to do that in Islington.”
Pastry: Gold felt laminated dough and croissant pastry was underused in London and wanted to start a business that celebrated “what an amazing pastry it is”.
Pasta: The Hackney site offers freshly made artisan pasta for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. Options include Cappellacci dei Briganti, N’Duja Scarpinocc and Pig Cheek Tortellini.
Coffee: Pophams uses the Brothers blend from London roaster Ozone, and offers a single-origin filter coffee that changes fortnightly. “Our coffee offering is really important,” says Gold.
Feature bar: Like the produce, the furniture is also handmade. The feature bar was made by Gold’s friend Freddie Dodson using a rare Japanese technique called kana. Picture: Safia Shakarchi
Ceramics: The cups, coffee cups and plates were made by Skye Corewijn of Bow-based Lazy Eye Ceramics. “We wanted to work with as many artisans as possible,” explains McWhirter.
Equipment: The kitchen is home to a Polin Stratos 15-tray oven, a Star 80 spiral mixer, a Ram Q670 1.2m sheeter, a Salva one-door prover and two shaping tables. Picture: Safia Shakarchi