What it's like to start up your own Police Box coffee shop

Entrepreneur Laura Cameron, who runs the Brew Box Coffee Company in Glasgow, tells us what it's like to start up, and make a success of, your own business.

Published 21st Jun 2016
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

Where the idea came from...

So, I suppose my passion for food started when I was a young girl.

I spent a lot of time at my grandparents watching my grandpa rustle up delicious curries, roast dinners and other delights.

He cooked with a real flair and the house was always filled with the aroma of herbs and spices cooking away.

My brother and I both watched in awe and as soon as we were both old enough we began creating our own food creations.

It took me a while to master the art, but once I had, the variety of my dishes were endless.

I would invite friends and family over at least three times a week to showcase my latest dishes; from Moroccan tagines or Korean chicken to south Indian curries. It was then I knew I had found my true passion in cooking.

I worked in admin, as a fashion stylist and then in the motor trade, with each job just driving me closer to my dream of owning my own café.

How Brew Box Coffee Company came about

For the last two years, I have been set on putting my plans in motion to find the perfect premises and make my dream a reality.

I stumbled across an old Tardis-style police box on Wilson street by chance when I was shopping in the area. I was saddened by its poor exterior and when I took a look inside it was in an ever poorer state. It looked as though it hadn't been touched in 20 years.

Through a stroke of luck a couple of weeks later I was still sifting through lists of potential premises when up popped the Tardis for rental.

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Picture: Christopher Anderson

Picture: Christopher Anderson

It had to be a sign.

I contacted the owner and signed the lease forthwith. The box was not fitted with power and this proved to be quite difficult to get, eventually - five months later and in the height of winter - we were able to get the box wired with power, complete with the original blue light at the top of the box.

We could now set to work.

Getting it going.

And when I say we, I mean me and my dad John, he has been amazing through the whole renovation.

He has been a joiner for over 30 years and is the master of his craft. I didn't trust anyone else with my vision. I wanted it to look exactly like a café on the inside and that is exactly what he has achieved. We worked tirelessly to get it opened on time, including new years day!

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My friend, Lynne Hamilton, and I even climbed on top of the box days before opening to clean and paint it.

It was solid hard work but I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in our 4ft x 4ft space, especially the work my dad has put in, as between working full time he made the time at nights and weekends to help us get it opened.

He fully supported me as he knew this had been my dream for such a long time.

I finally managed to open the box on 18th January, which some might argue is the worst week to open of the year, but I was so surprised to see a steady stream of customers even in the snow.
As the weeks progressed so did my menu.

The Coffee and food

Over the past few months I have trialled many different ways in which I can get the best out of my products while working in such a small space.

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Now I can wholeheartedly say that I am very proud of my current menu and what I have achieved in terms of creating great food in this wee box.

Vegan, raw, gluten free brownie by nudie cakes. Picture: BBCC

Vegan, raw, gluten free brownie by nudie cakes. Picture: BBCC

At the moment you can expect global street food-style vegan dishes, hand crafted fresh sandwiches on artisan bread from Freedom Bakery, American-style grilled cheese packed with fillings, artisan coffee from Alfie Coffee Co. and healthified cakes from Nudie Health foods.

Bread by freedom bakery. Picture: BBCC

Bread by freedom bakery. Picture: BBCC

It is very important for me, and the growth of Brew Box, that I use local businesses and new companies.

The Rueben sandwich. Picture: BBCC

The Rueben sandwich. Picture: BBCC

As I am also within this category, I feel its my duty to look after them, even the sandwich boards are written up by talented new sign writer The Chalkboard Burd.


Picture: The chalk board burd

I use the best possible ingredients I can get my hands on right down to the butter I use. I cut no corners when it comes to food and feel that the quality of my produce is reflective of that in the food I make everyday.

All of my food is made to order to ensure maximum freshness and taste.

The customers

I have gained many regular customers along the way some have joined the journey with me from the day I opened.

My customers enjoy the one on one service and that I always seem to remember their name and even their dog's name.

Brew Box Coffee Company

Picture: Christopher Anderson

I come from a customer service background and it is absolute key to me that I offer the best possible service to all of my customers, no matter who they are. Not only in providing great food and coffee but also a certain type of personal approach that you don't get from the big established franchises.

I have had customers from all over the world. It has been fantastic to see so many tourists. Some have went out their way across their travels in Scotland to come by and have a coffee and get their picture taken.

The future

Going forward I am involved in many events which I'm really excited to be a part of and to bring something new to Brew Box.. watch this space.

I am over the moon with the progress of the business and how it keeps going from strength to strength. The positive feedback from customers about such an original idea make my driving force stronger.

I now have a runner who helps me tackle the incredibly busy lunch service by keeping me restocked throughout the day.

I have big plans for this wee box and this is just the beginning.

• The Brew Box Coffee Company is located at Wilson St, Glasgow, G1 1HD


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