ll day, every day, St Pancras Station delivers what’s surely London’s most cosmopolitan travel hub experience.
Atmospherically framed beneath the single-span ironwork Barlow Shed, the place is a hive of non-stop activity.
Ensuring that thousands of daily travelers don’t go hungry or thirsty in such a fast-paced environment takes a certain kind of enthusiasm, so we were keen to hear from some of the people that make it happen.
The four we met proved to be a truly cosmopolitan bunch, too, and unwavering natural ambassadors for what it takes to get these hectic jobs done well.
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Hanna, Team Leader at Benugo
Tell us how you came to work here? I came from Romania but am Hungarian by birth. I have a young daughter and needed part-time work four years ago, and have been at this shop ever since. I’d say it is really my passion: it’s so interactive talking to customers from all over the world. You get to meet so many different people – and the time flies by each day.
What’s it like working in this historic building? Station life is fast – we serve more than 1500 customers a day here, beginning at 5.30am and right up until 11pm. The only break is Christmas Day. The station is lovely, and I feel it is really safe too. Everyone is in a rush, but they are always nice. I love being here.
What should we try? We have loads of different sandwiches and all are freshly made in our kitchen, which is upstairs. We eat these ourselves every day for lunch as the menu is changing a lot so we don’t get bored. Come in and I will recommend the latest vegetarian, meat ones or whatever you like. And our coffee is the best around, according to our customers. It’s Brazilian, with 60% arabica and 40% robusta beans.
Served any celebrities lately? We actually had a famous Hungarian TV star in here, who only I recognised. Also, when the big stars like Elton John or Jeff Goldblum come to play the pianos, we usually hear the rumour first from other shop staff, then take a look outside to see the huge crowds.
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Juan, Barista at Sourced Market
Tell us your story. I was born in Colombia, brought up in Spain, and I’m living in London to study English. I was looking for my first job and one of the guys in my class worked here. I’ve been at Sourced for 18 months now; before that I hadn’t even heard about St Pancras station.
What’s it like working in this grand building? It’s really fast-paced, and you don’t have time to think, which takes a while to get used to – particularly for a first job – but I’m good at it now. From 8-10am in the morning, I don’t stop on the coffee machine, which faces the wall so I don’t see much. After work I like to hang out upstairs for a drink, with the views of the Eurostar trains, looking down at all the people and shops, and relax.
What do you recommend? I make a great flat white, my favourite coffee as it’s at the middle point between strong espresso and silky milk. We use our own blend of beans from Brazil and Colombia, and we also have a filter coffee that changes every few weeks. The current Colombian one is selling well as its easy to drink, which people really like first thing in the morning. I like it with one of our cheese toasties, and I don’t say that just because I work here; they really are amazing.
How do things change throughout the day and across the week? The busy weekday mornings are a challenge, but that’s also what keeps it interesting. At the weekend there’s more time to chat with our regulars and share a joke about the news. We get more European visitors at weekends too and chat to all kinds of people. I’ve learned so much yet there’s something new to learn each day.
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Rouven, Bar Manager at Joe & The Juice
Tell us your story and how you came to work here? I’m from Munich, Germany, where I began training as an actor before moving here for drama school. I was sitting outside the National Theatre one day reading a play, and these guys walked up offering a job at a cool company and saying I’d fit right in. I thought it was some kind of rip-off but I went to the interview, where the questions were completely unlike anything I’d done before. Then there was a week at training campus learning how to make all the juices and sandwiches. The company really encourage you to be yourself, so you won’t get a robotic greeting from us. I like how we have the human touch. It’s also good with my acting to actually be myself at work, and not play a service character.
What’s it like working at this historic station? Before here I worked at our Cannon St branch, often serving more than 500 coffees before 10am. Here it’s actually not as hurried. Yes, people are catching a train, but they’re not all office workers desperate for their flat white fix before they can get going in the morning.
What do you recommend? Our coffee is from Honduras and is organic, with a dark chocolatey, fruity flavour. I’ve made things more interesting for the team by introducing Latte Art Dice made of wood from this cool little company who turned out to be big Joe and the Juice fans. Throwing the dice decides what artwork you’ll get on top.
Served anyone famous recently? I made a flat white for Tom Hardy and, as an aspiring actor, he’s one of my total idols. Luckily he was really cool about me being so excited. We had Frank Lampard in once too.
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Dan, Deputy Manager at The Betjeman Arms
Tell us your story and how you came to work here? I’m half Italian, half American, born in Paris. We lived in 22 houses and I went to 26 schools across six countries growing up, so I’m well-travelled. I ended up working in London after uni and moved here last summer from the Lamb Tavern in Leadenhall Market as a career step up.
What’s it like working at the station? I call it predictably unpredictable. Anything can and does happen, so train cancellations might mean it’s really busy, or equally that nobody even comes in to London. Eurostar delays and football matches can see big crowds suddenly in the bar. This pub is a really big, historic corner of the building, so we’ve got lots of different areas to eat, sit or drink.
What do you recommend we try? My favourite lunchtime sandwiches include the Butler’s Secret cheddar from Ireland, our special coronation chicken, or the croque madame which comes really smothered with cheese. We do a lovely fish finger goujon sandwich, too. Unlike most of the quick stop places here, if you want a more comfortable sit down for a really proper sandwich, perhaps with a pint, we’re the place to be.
Served any famous customers? The staff were excited when we had some off Made in Chelsea in recently, and we also served Dumbledore himself, Michael Gambon.
Find out more about all the food and drink options, plus events calendar at St Pancras Station here.
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Gasholder is another cultural guide from London Belongs to Me Ltd. It's available monthly in print and daily online as part of a network of such publications, each passionately dedicated to the capital's neighbourhoods. Find out more about Gasholder,