Situated in the cobbled Castle Street at the bottom of the town, Casa Da Claudia offers a range of mouth-watering paninis and flavoursome coffee. Owner Claudia Marta explains how she’s made the area her home, and talks about some favourite dishes and suppliers that make her menu shine
Tell us how Casa Da Claudia got started
I used to be a teaching assistant at Meadows School in Southborough, and my partner said there was this space in Tunbridge Wells for sale, so we came and saw it and I fell in love with it. This is my dream and has been for many, many years.
You opened in December last year – how has business been since then?
It varies; Mondays tend to be very quiet, but then Wednesdays are very busy and I get a full house upstairs and downstairs. I also get lots of takeaway orders, or people will ring to order and come in and collect.
What appealed to you about the area?
Castle Street reminds me of places like Portugal, Italy and Spain. I come from the south of Portugal in the countryside just towards Spain, where the streets are like this, so it’s perfect for me and reminds me of my town. I like it here and love this street.
Have you got to know other traders?
They’re really friendly. When I first got here, Skinners of Tunbridge Wells was the first to come and welcome me to the lane, and Cassidy’s are really lovely; they keep sending their customers here to eat, and I keep sending mine there to drink! They’re really lovely people around here.
Any customer favourites on the menu?
A big seller is my panini, called the Claudia Special, which is chicken and crispy bacon. I live in Beckenham and get here at about six in the morning, so by 6.15 I’m making my dishes. I leave at about 6pm and went for seven weeks without having a day off, but I don’t need one because I’m doing something I love.
Do you use local suppliers?
I’ve got Speldhurst sausages and I’m getting Speldhurst bacon. My bread comes from Beckenham because that’s where my husband works in a bakery, but mostly everything is local from the suppliers around here.
With so many coffee shops in the town, is there room for all of them?
I think everybody’s doing fantastically, and there’s enough for everyone. There’s enough for everybody and there’s enough for me; I’m not taking anything from anyone and no one’s taking anything from me. I love feeding and talking to people, and believe there’s enough for everybody.
Why do you think coffee culture is such big business around here?
I think Tunbridge Wells has got taste in food and coffee. I’ve realised that and believe Tunbridge Wells people will come and find you if they know where you are, because they’ve got a passion for food and coffee especially.
Where would you like to see things go in the future?
I’ve fallen in love with this place, so it’s very hard for me to start thinking about expanding. I want to stay here and don’t want to expand. I like it here and just want to do well and for people to enjoy my food, because that’s what I like to do.
CASA DA CLAUDIA