Fifteen: The little café beside the Clocks

Stroud has many excellent cafés – but which one do you like best? Robert Clucas Tomlinson tells us about his firm favourite.

Fifteen is a small and friendly café in the centre of Stroud, a reassuring constant in the otherwise breathless swirl of the coffee shop revolution. It is, indeed, the most personable of cafés, with framed photos of regular customers filling the walls, and an interior space cosy enough to make everyone in it feel connected with one another. If you’re looking for anonymity, somewhere to hide from the madding crowd, as all of us are from time to time, then Fifteen probably isn’t the place for you. Here, strangers talk. It’s part of the café’s charm.

Fifteen is open six days a week, Monday till Saturday, 8am till 6pm, as regular as clockwork, like the four clocks which keep time, a stone’s throw away from the café’s door. It is owned by Huseyin, who also owns two other well-known town eateries – Milano and Efes – and his Turkish roots resonate through the café thanks to the charming array of painted Turkish lights that hang from the ceiling.

Huseyin leaves the day to day running of the café to Luminita. She is originally from from Bucharest but has now lived in Stroud for over ten years. The regulars who come here are clearly very fond of her, and refer to her simply as ‘Lumi’. “I love Stroud because people know me and are friendly. There is a sense of community here” she says.

There is something homely about this place. I think the customers who make this their regular haunt do so because they are remembered and acknowledged. They are an integral part of the café’s family fabric.

And family is important. Lumi’s brother also works in the café and he is soon to be married. Lumi, of course, will be traveling back to Romania with him to celebrate the happy occasion. She says that she is only going for a week, but, with a wry smile, adds that it might end up as two.

“Don’t you dare go away for two weeks!” a customer hollers over her mug of coffee, and Lumi reassures her with another warm smile. I smile, too, and the customer begins a conversation with me.

Fifteen, 15 George St, Stroud, GL5 3DP