THE owners of a Covered Market cafe have two reasons to celebrate - a Royal visit and a five-star hygiene rating.
Father and son Agostinho and Humberto Freitas, owners of Brown’s Cafe in Oxford since 1994, are still reeling from the whirlwind visit of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall on Tuesday.
The owners of Brown’s, a city institution since 1924, are originally from Madeira in Portugal and were hoping Charles and Camilla would wash down their Portuguese custard tarts with a cup of tea.
The Royal couple were in too much of a hurry to sample their cakes but the owners are confident they would have been satisfied as the cafe has just received a five-star food hygiene rating from the Food Standards Agency.
Mr Freitas Jr, 35, said: “It was lovely to have a visit from Charles and Camilla - they were very warm and I felt so at ease when I was talking to them that I had one hand in my pocket when I shook hands.
“I don’t think we have ever had a Royal visit before and we will put some pictures on the wall because it was such a special day.”
Mr Freitas added that the cafe, which has seven full and part-time staff, was also celebrating its five-star rating following an inspection on April 24.
He added that the rating was an improvement on the previous four-star grade awarded following an inspection in 2015.
Mr Freitas added: “Last time, the inspectors said we were doing well so we tried to improve on that and we have been rewarded with five stars.
“We are celebrating but we are not going to be complacent - we will work hard to make sure we keep that five-star rating.”
Mr Freitas said the cafe had lots of loyal customers, and some have been visiting for decades.
He added: “I don’t like the phrase ‘town and gown’ but it’s a good way to describe our customer base - you get bricklayers eating their breakfasts next to university professors.
“Pensioners come in and say ‘I used to do my revision here when I was a student’.
“It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and we encourage the staff to give everyone a friendly welcome.”
Mr Freitas said prices at the cafe were ‘competitive for Oxford’ - a cooked breakfast costs £5.55 and an Americano coffee £2.30.
He added: “When people say ‘greasy spoon’ they are being affectionate but it doesn’t describe our food - it’s not greasy at all and lots of our ingredients are locally-sourced.
“We are very lucky to be here in the Covered Market because we can get our meat from the local butchers and our coffee from Cardews, which is opposite.”
Mr Freitas Sr added: “We want to keep Brown’s five-star and the name will never change.”
Food Standards Agency inspectors said the hygienic food handling was ‘good’, together with the cleanliness and condition of the facilities and the building.
The management of food safety, with systems in place to ensure food sold or served is safe to eat, was also rated ‘good’ by the food hygiene inspectors.