"I've always been a bit of a foodie. And I love coffee," says SUPA's James Clarke. The result? A new signing by Prenton Park that we think's a keeper.
James Clarke's SUPA adventure started last year. For the 38-year-old, the journey began with his mobile coffee shop, with James journeying across the Left Bank and wider Wirral to deliver a higher standard of coffee and exotic iced creations.
SUPA had to be steered in another direction though, with James needing a physical location to take the next step. SUPA, James tells us, is a nod to the ‘Super White Army’ of Tranmere Rovers - one match day, he spotted an empty unit near the ground. He was in by January.
His cosy Scandi-style café on Woodchurch Lane is overlooked by two Tranmere legends etched in the nearby Paul Curtis mural. “This was the first place we looked at when we were looking for a new location,” James says. “It was perfect.”
Since opening in April, SUPA has been a hit with locals, with repeat business growing thanks to the cafe's loyal army of fans. As well as the food James himself is a draw - he loves to talk and people like to chill and chat in SUPA’s relaxed surroundings.
“That’s exactly what I want, for people to feel like they have a home from home where they can relax, do some work, or just chill and chat about nothing.”
James's initial offering of specialist coffees has blossomed into an array of sweet and savoury treats. ‘Porky Pies’ sit on the counter alongside plump sausage rolls, Biscoff blondies, flavoured croissants, shorties, brownies and more alongside vegetarian and vegan options.
We had our heart set on an Eton Mess cruffin on the journey over but we had no luck. “The cruffins, they’re a different level. I’ve probably put about a stone on since I opened!” James says.
James’s passion is complemented by a commitment to quality and community spirit. “We get our roasted coffee from Adams & Russell in Birkenhead who have also helped to give us barista-level training,” James explains.
“Our cakes, bakes, and bread are local too,” he says, reeling off suppliers such as Born to Bake in Bromborough and Edge & Son Butchers in New Ferry.
James confesses his aspirations for SUPA extend beyond serving hot food and sandwiches. He says, “I’ve picked up on ideas, ingredients and brands over the years. If I see something that looks good or I like the look of a product, I'll make a note of it. I’ve been doing that for decades.”
As he shares his journey, James's dream for his café shines through. He explains, “I worked in printing for the last 15 years, but it was more of a career job. I just didn't like it. When the pandemic hit, it made me reassess things.”
When offered redundancy in December 2021, he felt the time was right to follow his own path. James credits his loving family and friends for helping him shape SUPA’s offering, aesthetic and feel - especially his wife, Katie.
James is working hard to grow SUPA further and has immediate and long-term plans to become a social hub. “As I’ve gotten older I’ve realised that I'm just happy talking to people and owning a café.”
This house blend of dreams and determination form the heart and soul of James's SUPA. The plans are in place, and his community and close ones are all behind him. To us, that’s what the Left Bank’s all about.
4 Woodchurch Lane, Birkenhead, CH42 9PH