Squeg + Bonez: Plant-based restaurant to open on Mare Street

Schoolfriends Holly O'Leary and Alice Harry are behind the new venue on Mare Street.

Schoolfriends Holly O'Leary and Alice Harry are behind the new venue on Mare Street. - Credit: Archant

Childhood friends Holly O’Leary and Alice Harry are about to bring a brew bar, café and small-plates restaurant to Hackney’s vegan scene. They’re opening Squeg + Bonez on Thursday (June 6) with 100 free coffees to be claimed the next day.

Mushroom Dumplings from Squeg and Bonez.

Mushroom Dumplings from Squeg and Bonez. - Credit: Archant

You never really forget, do you? Even if you've not been in touch for decades, the friends you first make as a tiny 11-year-old starting at secondary school stay fresh in the mind.

In the case of 27-year-old Holly O'Leary, a friend she made at the age of 11 has now become a business partner, as Alice Harry joins her to launch Squeg + Bonez on Mare Street.

The plant-based café, brew bar and restaurant opens on June 6, with free coffees for the first 100 customers up for grabs on June 7 only.

"It's really exciting, and nice to be able to put yourself out there," says O'Leary.

Hot and Cold Noodles will also feature on the restaurant's plant-based menu.

Hot and Cold Noodles will also feature on the restaurant's plant-based menu. - Credit: Archant

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"When I was younger I wanted to be a chef, but I'm vegan and there wasn't an opportunity - it didn't seem viable (before). Now the scene has exploded; there is so much stuff around us and I feel like the area is becoming a little vegan hub."

The pair used to live across the park from each other in Liverpool, and now they live in similarly close proximity in Hackney.

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With a combined 14 years experience of the industry, O'Leary will head up the kitchen while Harry focuses on the front of house.

The former comes from a TV background, where she worked on food programmes like Great British Menu and toured with Gordon Ramsay's team, and more recently helped to open Cornerstone; the restaurant in Hackney Wick.

Beetroot Cured Tofu from Squeg and Bonez.

Beetroot Cured Tofu from Squeg and Bonez. - Credit: Archant

Low intervention wines are a big thing for her, too, and O'Leary will work with three of her favourite suppliers in Natural Born Wines, Dynamic Vines and Tutto.

Harry (also known as Squeg - while O'Leary's nickname is Bonez) has worked in coffee for seven years - first at Monmouth and then AllPress - and also dabbles in art. She's illustrated parts of the venue, designed the menus and will have some of her works up for sale here.

"I want it to feel a little silly, a little fun," she adds. "After all, what we're passionate about, besides the products themselves, is people.

"I think the belief that to be successful you have to be a hard-hitting business mogul is changing. We want to nurture, grow and learn from our staff and customers - that's our version of success."

Squeg + Bonez will serve plates like pickled mushroom dumplings, curried roast potatoes and pumpkin & kaffir lime soup for between £7 and £9 each.

The duo will start with an all-female kitchen team and are unflinching as they head in to a typically male-dominated industry.

O'Leary explains: "We're open to being adaptable and working with the community to find out what works for them as well. We're doing it as an experiment; putting something out there that we would like ourselves."

Squeg + Bonez opens at 171 Mare Street, E8 3RH from Thursday June 6. For more details, visit their website or follow their Instagram.

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