Abi Matteson

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On the Cathedral Green is one of Exeter’s least well-kept secrets. Hidden behind the drug addicts, PCSOs and seagulls is The Plant, a gorgeous miniature vegetarian cafe.

The cafe opened in 2004 and five years later, it was bought by three of its staff: Polly Barnes, Hannah Parris and Abi Matteson. Abi was just 22. As Fin and I were testing the Bike Shed in 2010, we would refresh ourselves with coffee, frittata and cake from up the road. And so it came to pass, that when we decided to make a proper go of it, we turned to The Plant to provide the food.

They took a risk on us, and for the first year and a bit they served up beautiful plates of pies, salads and frittatas. It was sad for us both when space and staffing made it too difficult for the cafe to stay in the Bike Shed. But Abi has stayed around. She’s organised quizzes, DJ-ed and drunk and danced many a night away. Abi works incredibly hard, is always courteous and has a keen eye for the bigger picture.

She’s been a great friend of the Bike Shed, a loyal supporter, often in the audience, always asking after the business. I’ll always be grateful to her (and Polly and Hannah) for taking a chance, for seeing an opportunity and, beyond all else, for continuing to care.

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