Honeycomb & Co. are a friendly all-day modern eatery with a passion for great tastes and flavours, serving great food and drink prepared right there in store - including our own Machina Vox Pop blend. You can find them daily at 1 Merchiston Place in Bruntsfield.
We spoke to owner Ian D'Annunzio-Green about the business, the menu, the coffee and the future of Honeycomb & Co.
What can people expect when they walk into Honeycomb & Co.?
The first thing they can expect is a very warm welcome, with friendly, informal and efficient service. Then there’s our great-tasting homemade food and drinks – always with a twist to keep things interesting!
Your name is synonymous with some of the city's very best eating spots, what experience did you draw on to make Honeycomb & Co. a key destination cafe in Edinburgh?
My experience draws on many years working with leading visitor attractions in the Arts and Heritage sectors, including the National Galleries of Scotland at the Portrait Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art and Dean Galleries, Hopetoun House and the City Art Centre – all of these had one common aim of working with a local independent business for their food, drink and events.
Being independent allowed us to create individual spaces with their own style and personality, using produce from the best suppliers. We built loyal followings which helped ensure that when setting up Honeycomb & Co we knew what we wanted to be - and really importantly also what we didn’t want to be.
What is your favourite thing on the menu currently?
My go-to in the morning is Hot & Spicy French Toast – it’s comfort food with plenty of flavour and a touch of heat, showcasing ingredients from some brilliant independent suppliers. It’s become a Honeycomb & Co classic now - we’ve taken it off the menu twice and it’s always returned quickly due to demand. For lunch I’d pick one of our seasonal specials – right now our Vietnamese-influenced chicken salad, full of flavour and again with a touch of spice!
Tell us about the Hive Loyalty programme?
The Hive was created to allow us to offer a regular way to our lovely loyal customers up to date with news from Honeycomb & Co – in fact it was really inspired by our customers asking questions and being really interested in what we offered and looking to enjoy more of what we do.
We didn’t want to create something where points had to be collected, or ask people to remember to bring a card with them, but saw it more as a way to share news and offers – always something special that we think members of The Hive will really enjoy.
We have close to 6000 members who actively engage with us and our chosen partners – we’re always keen to support other local business partnerships as the community spirit is alive and stronger than ever here in Bruntsfield and across Edinburgh.
How did you adapt the business to survive the past 12 months and what have you learnt about yourself in these testing times?
In common with the whole hospitality sector, we’ve been on a huge learning curve – it felt at times as if we were on The Apprentice, with a new task to learn and deliver each week!
The team has been amazing, and together with our customers we tried new things, new collaborations and ultimately they have made us stronger and I think ready for anything. The new challenges have also moved us on in a positive way as we created our online shopping and reservations platforms, and trialled delivery options and third party providers.
Life hasn’t been dull, but the one constant was the support from our amazing suppliers, many of whom are independent with the same open outlook that we had to adopt in order to survive.
I have seen remarkable resilience and goodwill, which I think was always there but probably hidden by everyday workloads and the pressure of completing our task lists. Everyone has always worked hard and I think that the effort that goes into so many businesses and experiences is underestimated. As busy people it’s easy to overlook success and move onto the next task.
My real learning point from the challenging time we’ve all been through is that we should all celebrate what we’ve achieved more – there is a lot to be proud of across our industry.
What is your approach to coffee and why did you decide to select Machina Coffee as your coffee partner?
Coffee is a major part of our daily offer – our top-selling coffee is a long black so quite simply, it has to be great each and every time, especially as many of our customers return several times a week. We love introducing fun and quirky seasonal specials alongside our well-crafted classics and always want our customers to enjoy coffee with us as a special experience.
From the outset it was clear that Machina Coffee was right for us; they were engaged and super-passionate about every part of the coffee experience from grower relationships through to roasting. We love having the Machina Coffee experts to advise and support our team and it’s wonderful to work with another independent business that really aims to deliver exceptional service – it’s clear they were looking to work with like-minded individuals, so it feels like a win-win!
Steve, Michael and all at Machina Coffee have really become part of our team, never more so than during the last 18 months.
Finally, what exciting things can people expect from Honeycomb & Co. coming up in the next 12 months?
Hopefully we’ll be seeing something much closer to ‘normal’ – we’re almost back to our full capacity, our evening events diary will be reopened (we love a good party!) and very soon our outdoor space will have a revamp that means people can enjoy our outdoor space all year round.
Our new menus for Autumn and Winter are about to be trialled and launched so there’s lots happening to keep our sunny little corner of Bruntsfield as busy as ever.
Honeycomb & Co.
1 Merchiston Place
Edinburgh EH10 4NP