The name comes from the French word for bike. The TV at the cafe shows races and stunts from the world of cycling. There is a cycle workshop at the back run by a former manager and mechanic from Evans Cycles. And the seats are in Tour de France jersey colours. As such, Velo sounds like a cyclist’s heaven.

But the boss of the new cafe on The Level stresses this is not just a place for those who like to travel on two wheels.

“It is not about hardcore cyclists. It is for people who like good food, good drink,” says Nigel Lambe, a former boss at WJ King Brewery in Horsham and current chief of the rapidly growing Brighton coffee house empire, Small Batch. “Our ethos was we wanted to find things we could do better than anyone else.

“We have three key items – salads, sandwiches and macaroni cheeses – with six variants of each. We want to create the best of each in Brighton.”

A former Gingerman chef, Simon Neville Jones, has created the menu.

“He is one of the best chefs in Brighton. He was head chef at The Gingerman in Norfolk Square for ten years. He has also spent time at The Coal Shed [in Boyces Street]. He is incredibly creative.”

Lambe’s message to Jones was that everything had to be done from scratch and as much as possible made in the Velo kitchen. “I think a lot of people think in the park it will be something out of the freezer and we will fry it. It might take longer than elsewhere but it’s all handmade and everything is locally produced.”

Fresh bread comes from The Flour Pot Bakery in Hove and meat from Sussex-based Finti’s Freerange. The single-storey cafe sits right in the centre of The Level, next to the new skate park. The building was part-funded by the council and the National Lottery – and, as you would expect from a Green council, is eco-friendly.

Green credentials

It has a green wildlife-friendly roof, solar thermal and PV panels, air-source heating and heat exchange, and a rainwater harvesting system.

“It fits with our ethos,” says Lambe. “We are trying to do good things without killing the Earth.”

Lambe says they looked at other cycling cafes around the world – from London’s famous Look Mum No Hands! to establishments in the US.

But this is a specific concept for Brighton. Lambe wants it to become a community hub. “We are trying to create a whole programme of events. A couple of charities have booked in to hold events here in January, so it will be free for them to have to raise money.

“There will be maintenance courses to teach kids how they can look after their own bikes and talks about road safety.”

Lambe believes Velo is in the perfect position for Sunday riders to meet before they head out to the Downs. The fact you get 10% off your coffee if you turn up in cycling colours is an added treat. “Brighton Mitre have been in. They did a ride-out last week, which started from here. She Rides, the local ladies club, has been meeting here, too.

“And we’ve even had one of the top local riders in regularly, Felix English.”

There are 50 seats inside and another 150 outside, which Lambe believes will make Velo a perfect place for meeting in summer and sharing a beer with mates.

  • Velo, The Level, Brighton
  • Open Monday to Saturday 8am to 6pm, and Sunday 8am to 5pm. For more information,visit