Magical funding formula for witch and wizard themed venue

X The Business Desk

Register for free to receive latest news stories direct to your inbox


An entrepreneurial duo hope to bring a spark of magic to Sheffield in the form of a witch and wizard themed café after securing a vital cash boost from Finance For Enterprise.

Husband and wife Robert and Nicola Downham launched the Steel Cauldron, a wizard themed café and inn, after drawing on inspiration from a Harry Potter themed café they visited whilst on holiday last year.

They secured premises in Broomhill and gained additional funding from the Doncaster-based alternative lending provider.

Working alongside investment manager, Gillian Pickard, the couple were able to access the finance their business needed with help from a Start Up Loan.

The café proved to be a hit and regularly attracts over a thousand visitors each week who take part in fantasy themed activities including a magic school, board games as well as regular quiz nights and live entertainment.

Upstairs, the couple have invested in creating the Wizard’s Rest Inn, a magical place to rest your head for the night.

Like many businesses in the leisure industry, the Downhams have been forced to adjust their business model following the introduction of lockdown measures.

Since the business opened its doors in July, it has helped create 18 new full-time jobs.

Despite uncertainties facing everyone working in the leisure and hospitality sector, Robert Downham believes the formula behind the business means The Steel Cauldron has a bright future ahead.

He added: “We had originally intended to launch in March; however, we were forced to change our plans because of the national lockdown measures.

“From my previous experience working in property and finance I was under no illusions as to the challenges facing new businesses, particularly when it came to raising funding.

“But when a friend mentioned the specific support provided by Finance For Enterprise to help new businesses it gave us confidence to believe in our business idea.

“From the outset, Gillian, our advisor, was extremely helpful and made the whole application process quick and straightforward.

“The two £12,500 loans were quickly granted and in our account within two weeks, which helped ease our worries about renovating the property, buying new equipment, and having a healthy cash flow.

“The support provided by Finance For Enterprise has been vital to our success.

“Although it’s been an incredibly challenging environment, the business has continued to perform above our expectations, and we’re already hoping to expand by opening new sites in the future.”

Pickard said: “In a business environment where the leisure and hospitality sectors have been particularly hard hit by lockdown measures introduced, Robert and Nicola have defied all the odds to build a business which is not only responding to the challenges posed, but one that’s thriving.

“Many small businesses struggle to survive because of cashflow, something which Robert was acutely aware of from his finance background.

“Their application was supported by a robust business plan and as a result, we were able to put the finance in place quickly, enabling them to undertake the refurbishment needed.”