Walk into the Neon Wolf cafe and you’ll immediately start eyeing up spots for your Instagram. It’s bright, engaging and slick, with colourful Goose Fair-vibe seats and arcade machines that you’ll play with a mean coffee buzz. It’s good coffee too – they’ve partnered up with Stewart’s and have nabbed two head baristas from a notorious Nottingham coffee shop.
Having an aesthetically-pleasing cafe to marry up to their already thriving tattoo studio – situated just downstairs – makes perfect sense. Owner James Irons says: “It's a bit more fun, with the games and the food, and is in line with what we've got in the studio. If this was a subsidised cafe for the tattoo parlour it wouldn't work – it needed to be a stand-alone business by itself, taking the food and drink seriously.”
As well as a tasty cup of char, they also offer vegan confectionery from Mansfield’s Macaron Girls. Doughnuts, cookies, cupcakes… Cue a Homer-esque mouth dribble. They’ve even got Simpsons-style doughnut cupcakes. “I'm vegetarian not vegan, but the amount of times I’ve looked at a menu, squinting for a ‘V’ has been awful. I wanted it to be the other way around!” he says. “We've put countless months of development into the food, going back and forth on recipes as well. It’s all vegan and all really good – you won’t be able to taste the difference.”
They don’t have a full food menu at the moment, but they are cooking up plans to have local street food vendor guest spots in the kitchen. Not only this, but they’ve got plans for yoga and coffee mornings, as well as game challenge nights on their arcade machines where people can win a day in a tattoo chair.
The nostalgic interior is due to James’ childhood. “When I was a kid, me and my mate used to ride our BMXes from Toton to the Showcase Cinema to play on the Ninja Turtles machine, because it was a five player game.” When we snap him for photos, he’s clearly at home on the gaming machines. “I'm not really into modern gaming,” he laughs. “I had a go on Call of Duty and I was terrible!”
Coming to the cafe offers you a really good place to inspire you tattoo-wise too. “We've got books that people can flick through, and we've got an art wall with hand-drawn postcards from our artists.” There’s no pressure to get a tat though – you can go in and enjoy the cafe just for its treats and tricks.
“If you're creative, you like tattoos and you like coffee, it's probably the best place you can come to in the UK,” James smiles. “There just isn't anywhere like it.”
Derby Rd, NG1 5AA