The Suffolk Jungle Room won the Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Fleximize, at the East Anglian Daily Times Business Awards 2023

The business, which was founded in February 2022 by directors Sam Coe and Tony Prince, runs two high-end cafés and house plant shops in Metfield, near Harleston, and Wissett, near Halesworth. 

It offers a high-quality, fresh and ever-changing menu of café products alongside a range of house plants. 

The newest site in Wissett also includes a commercial kitchen, which allows The Suffolk Jungle Room to bake its products in-house, helping to grow its offering and increase profit margins. 
Director Sam Coe said 2023 was “a really tough year for our small business, with the cost-of-living crisis and the disruption of closing a site unexpectedly”. 

The award win gave Sam and fellow director Tony “a much-needed confidence boost” for their business. 

“Being able to describe ourselves as ‘an award-winning café’ fills us and our staff with pride,” Sam added.  

The business employs permanent staff members and casual/seasonal staff, including many young people.  

Sam and Tony ensure staff are nurtured and that they foster a vibrant sense of community at both cafés.  

East Anglian Daily Times: The cafe in Wisset, near HalesworthThe cafe in Wisset, near Halesworth (Image: Charlotte Bond)

“We work with lots of young people in our industry,” said Sam. “Ensuring they feel respected, supported and happy at work is vital to ensure they stay with us from season to season, year to year.  

“We want to train our staff to work across all areas of the business, but most importantly to utilise their personalities to build relationships with our customers. We believe this to be so important when running a business that works within the community.

“It’s important for us that all staff go above and beyond for our customers. This is a life skill and creates a confidence that they will take with them as they pursue a career in any industry.”

The way staff are nurtured was just one reason The Suffolk Jungle Room won the Small Business of the Year award.

Sam said that winning “has encouraged us to weather the tough times, knowing we have the recognition of the work we’ve done so far and our plans for the future”. 

Those plans include expanding the wholesale side of the business this year.

“Although we don’t intend to open any new sites within the next year, we are now selling our bakehouse products onto other commercial customers in wholesale form,” said Sam. “This is a new part of the business we look forward to expanding further in 2024.” 

She puts the continued success of The Suffolk Jungle Room down to hard work.  

“We don’t stop; it’s constant and all-consuming,” she said. “I don’t think we ever realised how hard it was going to be, how stressful, but equally very rewarding when that hard work is recognised by something so prestigious as the EADT Business Awards.” 

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