Small wonders at booming Piccadilly Arcade Birmingham

Author: Stacey BarnfieldPublished:

Small remains beautiful for a coffee and tea shop nestled among Piccadilly Arcade’s array of independent stores.

The growing reputation of Faculty belies its intimate home for just over two years in the historic precinct, which runs between Stephenson Street and New Street.

Piccadilly Arcade was built in 1910 as a picture house before being converted into an indoor shopping strip 16 years later.

The original shop fronts have survived and Faculty and sister business Sixteen Bakery/Kitchen are accompanied by jewellers, a beauty salon, cobbler, tailor and flower, gift and outdoor clothing/equipment shops.

The arcade boasts spectacular ceiling art, with ‘A Life in the Year of the Chinchillas’, painted by Paul Maxfield in 1989, depicting the four seasons as a metaphor for the life cycle.

Word of Faculty’s brews and cakes has spread far beyond the picturesque arcade, yet owner Geoff Lam and business partner Craig Bush have resisted the temptation to expand.

Their only development work has seen the wall between Faculty and Sixteen demolished to provide extra seating options for both sets of customers.

Geoff Lam Craig Bush

Geoff’s wife Lucy ran and produced the baked goods for Sixteen, which sells sandwiches, toasties, quiches, cakes, soups and salads, until the recent birth of their second child.

“Piccadilly Arcade is a great community of independent stores and we all get on well,” said Geoff, who ran Saint Caffe in St Paul’s Square for eight years.

“We all offer something different but it’s important we keep spreading the word. A lot of people still don’t know the arcade exists.

“We opted for a small unit because we wanted an intimate and friendly atmosphere, where customers can relate to our staff.

“We’re quality focused and put care and time into making every drink. The layout is as open as possible so customers aren’t afraid to ask questions about how we’re making their drink.”

Taste is king at Faculty, which also sells retail beans and brewing equipment, like V60 kits. Customers can even sup at an old school desk, donated by a former home-schooling teacher.

“Since opening, our main focus has been getting Faculty running smoothly and being the very best it can be,” added Craig who, like Geoff, is a fully-trained barista.

Faculty coffee

Faculty coffee

“We aim to extract the best flavours out of our coffees. Our baristas are constantly exploring the best ways to serve drinks to give us that extra edge.

“We also offer tips on how customers can get the best out of their home brewing experience.”

With new gates and improved lighting planned, the future looks bright for Piccadilly Arcade – after a challenging recent past.

“With the tram works on Stephenson Street, which had started well before we opened, it’s been tough at times,” added Geoff.

“But we’re hoping the worst is behind us. Things have been great since the redeveloped New Street Station opened, which has been a real boost for the arcade.

“We’re based in a very interesting area, with lots of interesting shops. Now the tram’s working, the pendulum will hopefully swing the other way and we’ll see a further benefit to the area.”

Article written by Edwin Ellis Creative Media on behalf of Retail BID Birmingham. For media usage enquiries please call Stacey Barnfield on 07788190540