Ich Bin Kentishtowner: Rich and Klara Bernatt-Williams, Two Doors Down

The owners of this year’s most popular new coffee shop on outdoor swimming, sleep deprivation – and preferring tea to coffee

Klara: ‘It’s so easy to be polite and it makes everyone’s day better – why wouldn’t you bother?’
Photo: Stephen Emms
Rich and Klara Bernatt-Williams ended up back in their old stomping ground of north London after years in the south-east suburb of Brockley, where Klara was a teacher and Rich worked in marketing. About to abandon the capital for Brighton, the couple stumbled across a disused unit on Kentish Town Road earlier this year – and opened acclaimed coffee shop Two Doors Down at the end of May, fulfilling a lifelong dream at the same time.

When were you happiest?
Klara: When I got my first afternoon off in 65 days and took my very first visit to the Hampstead Ladies’ Pond. It really felt like paradise, swimming along side ducks in the cool waters, and then drying off in the meadow afterwards – I haven’t shut up about it since.
Rich: A winter’s day about five years ago when Klara and I made snow beards together.

Where would you like to live?
K: I’ve recently discovered Reed’s Place, the gorgeous little mews behind Dot’s music shop. Or failing that, the Postmen’s Sorting Office on Leighton Road.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
K: That first intense chocolate-infused coffee scent that leaps out of our Mazzer Grinder each morning.
R: The smell of new rubber tyres in the Giant Camden store next to our shop.

What is your greatest life achievement?
K: Two Doors Down is without a doubt my greatest achievement to date. There have been other things I am proud of, but the shop is the first thing that has been a gamble (we sold our flat to fund it) and therefore the sense of achievement that we are actually open and doing well (so far) is incredibly satisfying.

Cute! The exterior. Photo: Stephen Emms
Cute! The exterior. Photo: Stephen Emms
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
K: Acceptance, flexibility and forgiveness (not necessarily in that order).

What is your earliest memory of the area?
K: A night out at either The Oxford or Annie’s (or whatever they were formerly) after a school production at Camden School for Girls circa 2001.
R: Kasabian at The Forum. Unbelievable.

What makes you unhappy?
K: Violence and Aggression. In life and on TV.
R: Anything that makes Klara unhappy – and soggy vegetables.

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
K: More sleep.
R: For Klara to have more sleep.

What is your most unappealing habit?
K: Currently: talking with my mouth full (so Rich tells me).
R: Smoking.

What is your guilty pleasure?
K: Scoffing all our stock. I can’t keep my hands off our Gluten-free Brownies made by our amazing baker Sal from start-up Breadren.
R: Many, many pints at The Grafton.

Where do you hang out?
Our top two are The Grafton and Fields Beneath – it is also a bonus that these 2 great places are run by such lovely folks. Joel at the former and Gavin at the latter have been particularly supportive and forthcoming with advice and positivity about our business, all of which has been gratefully received.

Who or what do you hate and why?
K: Bad manners – it’s so easy to be polite and it makes everyone’s day better. Why wouldn’t you bother?
R: Baked beans, especially when they stray from the pack and show up on the other side of your dinner plate.

The signature (and mighty fine) sausage roll with added quali's egg. Photo: Stephen Emms
The signature (and mighty fine) sausage roll with added quali’s egg. Photo: Stephen Emms
What’s been your best experience here?
A random Friday drinking session, that started off with a sausage dog named Louie and too many Bloody Marys at The Olde Eagle and ended with our first trip to Knowhere Special. But the best bit was bumping into so many of our regulars and stopping for mini chin-wags on our merry way up Kentish Town Road.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
K: I’m not loving my swollen feet at the moment.
R: The fact that seem to always have coffee spilt down myself.

What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
R: “I don’t like the tone of your knock”. My evil ex-science teacher at secondary school in response to me knocking on her classroom door. Until that day I had been very happy with the tone of my knock.

Tell us a secret.
K: I prefer tea to coffee.

What is your favourite dish and why?
K: A lovely fillet steak with Richie’s homemade chimichurri sauce – although I usually stink of garlic for about a week after.

What did you do today?
K: Cleaned our flat and worked at the shop – nothing very glam.
R: Worked for a very long time and bought a new cycle helmet.

What has your career taught you?
K: Invest in sensible shoes. I haven’t – hence my swollen feet.
R: The customer isn’t always right. But I will always pretend they are.

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Two Doors Down is open at 73 Kentish Town Road NW1. Follow them on Twitter @twodoorsdownNw1

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