How I turned my passion for food into a thriving business


Elly Curshen

Elly Curshen - aka Elly Pear - is the busy owner of Bristol's beloved Pear Café and author of the popular recipe book Fast Days & Feast Days

Described as "the hipster's 5:2 guru" by InStyle magazine, Elly has championed a new approach to the popular 5:2 diet with a recipe book full of delicious dishes for both fast days and feast days.

Not surprisingly, Elly's commitment to sharing her passion for dishes that are both nutritious and delicious has earned her a significant following on Twitter (@pearcafe) and Instagram (@ellypear) - and it all started with a small café in Bristol.

Social media success

The Pear Café is a little gem close to the centre of Bristol city centre, offering salads, sandwiches, frittatas, great coffee and wonderful cakes. Everything is made from scratch, using quality ingredients and local suppliers. The café has been busy from the off, thanks to its location and a strong social media following.

"Twitter and Instagram have been great. They've been a big part of our marketing," says Elly. "We have a website with our permanent menu and I often tweet or snap the specials and post them on Instagram, so lots of customers see those and come in as a result. Instagram, especially, deserves a lot of credit for spreading the word about what we do."

Location is vital for any business, especially a café. "There are also lots of other enterprises in the area, including charities," says Elly. "It's nice to be surrounded by a lot of other small independent businesses and organisations”.

Getting support

But Elly hadn't always planned to open a café. "It was a total fluke," she says. "I had started out planning to set up a catering business. I attended a half-day course on setting up in business run by BRAVE, the Bristol business support service. Then I found out there was a unit available in the BRAVE building.

"So I sat through the training session thinking about setting up a café and then afterwards had two days to write my proposal," she explains. "It was manic. I wrote the menus and fixed the pricing, it all came pouring out of me. I knew exactly how I wanted everything to be and how I didn't want it to be. I went from saying 'maybe' to starting a café business in just two weeks."

Mission statement

Elly has a clear ethos for the Pear Café. "Everything we serve is made from scratch. We buy bread from our local bakery. And we make everything, from sandwich fillings, to soup, salads and even our own hummus.

"It saddens me how people just see food as fuel, they grab lunch or eat at their desk," she adds. "I believe people should be able to get good healthy food and should also be able to treat themselves to great coffee and good cakes."