Our story

Established in 2004, the Real Eating Company is an independent café business that is shaped and driven by the people behind it. Their energy and entrepreneurial spirit has created the business that is working today – creating jobs for local people, sustaining local producers and bringing great food and drink to its customers whilst growing a dynamic, sustainable and commercially successful company that will last.

Our story

The Real Eating Company was created by Helena Hudson in January 2004. Helena moved to Brighton in 2001 with her family and quickly spotted the potential for a high-quality British casual dining café concept in the South East.

Following a successful advertising career in London, Helena diverted her business expertise, energy and funds into creating her own business from scratch. Today, the Real Eating Company is a well-established business in the South East. Helena’s entrepreneurial journey has been well-documented by the national and local media and the company.

Helena Hudson
Locally sourced salad

Locally sourced food

We’ve built up a strong network of small producers in the South of England over the last decade. They’ve grown with us, as our business has grown. There is a wealth of small food and drink businesses who make really good stuff but often don’t have the time, resource or cash to manage a relationship with a large national chain. That’s where we come in.

We’ve always believed in using good-quality local produce wherever we can, long before it became fashionable. It’s a really important part of our DNA, part of being an independent business, and we believe it’s something that matters to our customers too. We work closely with our small producers to bring what they put so much care and attention into, to a wider audience. We hope that you enjoy it.

Our philosophy

We’re an independent café business with sites dotted around the South East.

Our independence really matters to us. We want to make the right decisions for the right reasons, not just for profit or to make shareholders happy.

We believe in using great products and we don’t buy the cheapest things to make more money. Quality really matters to us, it shapes everything we try to do.

Meet our producers

We have built strong relationships with some amazingly talented and dedicated food and drink producers in the UK. Follow some of their stories below and hear about what makes them special.
Alice Rendle


Alice and her family have been tea merchants and coffee roasters for several generations. They roast our coffee for us, fresh, every week so that our customers can enjoy fantastic-tasting coffee.

Tom Stephens


We’ve been buying our delicious Cox & Bramley apple juice from Tom’s family orchards nestled in the South Downs near Horsham, for several years.

Julian Warrender

Ouse Valley Foods

We’ve known Julian since the early days when she first set up her business. Based in East Sussex, she now makes our fabulous fruity jam and marmalade for us.