Creative Couple behind new art-hub in Bedford

Published on 08 November 2017


·         Vanilla Tree set to be exciting new destination on St Cuthbert's Street.

·         Bedfordshire artists Tree and Martin O'Hare promise a “unique and stylish new venue”.

·         They are hoping to use Vanilla Tree to champion emerging local artistic talent.

·         Tree is already known for her handmade cookies and incredible made-to-order cakes.

A couple realising their long-held dream of opening their own coffee shop and bakery in the heart of Bedford are hoping it will become an artistic hub in the town.

Artists Tracy (known as Tree) and Martin O'Hare have a creative background which promises to make Vanilla Tree a unique and stylish new venue in the town.

And they are determined to use their new venture to help promote emerging local artists, including developing part of the premises as gallery space.

Tree has become well-known in Bedfordshire for her handmade biscuits and cakes, which she sells at farmers' markets across the county, as well as for her incredible made-to-order creations.

Now her husband, Martin, is swapping commuting for cappuccinos as the O'Hares take the plunge and open Vanilla Tree this week (November 9).

Tree, 44, and Martin, 45, met when they trained in fine art in the 1990s – Martin at Central Saint Martin's and Tree at Camberwell College of Arts.

They're hoping their ongoing artistic interests will help make Vanilla Tree a distinctive, must-visit venue in the town. As well a featuring some of their own work on the walls, they eventually hope to make some of the space available to other Bedfordshire artists, including students.

“I've loved doing the cake-making and the farmers' markets as part-time activity as my kids have been growing-up but its always been our dream to open a coffee shop and make it our own,” said Tree, who lives with Martin and their three children just south of Bedford.

“Martin's worked for years in London and we just got to a point where we'd all had enough of the commuting and the daily grind of him working in the capital while living here in Bedfordshire,” Tree said.

“So we just thought we'd take the plunge and do what we've always dreamed of doing.

“Of course it's a bit scary, because we've put absolutely everything into it, but it's one of those situations where if you don't do it, you'll always wonder 'what if'.”

Tree and Martin have spent the last two months working day-and-night to gut an old carpet shop on St Cuthbert's Street and make it their own.

As well as locally roasted traditional Italian blend coffee and Tree's delicious baking, Vanilla Tree will also be serving hand-rolled bagels, baked on the premises, with a delicious range of fillings - including their trademark salt-beef and mustard mayo.

And the handmade cakes on offer for the opening week will include one of Tree's showstoppers – Portuguese custard tarts.

“We're putting so much of ourselves into Vanilla Tree, we just hope that everyone else in the town loves it as much as we will,” Tree said.

“We're determined to concentrate on the basics - serving really good coffee along with the home cooked goodies. And, of course, we're aiming to create a friendly, slightly off-beat place where people just want to hang-out all the time.”

Tree and Martin have continued to produce art as their working lives and family have developed.

They think Vanilla Tree could develop into buzzing hub for people with similar interests in the Bedfordshire area.

Vanilla Tree opens on November 9 at 8am.

:: See, and @vanillatree29

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