Cereal Killer: breakfast café launches own cereal range for the first time

The cereal entrepreneurs tell The Week Portfolio about their new product line


Belfast-born twins Gary and Alan Keery are no strangers to controversy. When their breakfast café serving exotic cereals from around the world arrived in Shoreditch four years ago, the pair attracted the ire of anti-gentrification protesters.

At the time, locals were critical that Cereal Killer café charged up to £4.40 for a single bowl of cereal. Hundreds of demonstrators descended on the shop, attacking it and graffitiing the word “scum” on the windows.

Years later, the pair are preparing a new line of cereal with names like Unicorn Poop and Salty Balls. Ahead of the launch, The Week caught up with the Keerys to find out more about their move from running restaurants to selling their own products.

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Unicorn Poop and Salty Balls... tell us, how did you come up with those two concepts for your first cereal line? And what ideas were shelved along the way?

Unicorn Poop and Salty Balls are both fan favourites as cereal bowls at our cafés so it made sense these would be the first cereals we sold by the box. We’re always looking to create something different and unique that is completely different to most people’s idea of what a cereal can be. That said, in the course of our experimentation we’ve had a few, shall we say, “missteps” along the way – cheese and onion flavour being a memorable example. But that won’t stop us trying.

All these years later, how do you feel about the storm of controversy – and even violent protests – that greeted the opening of Cereal Killer cafe?

We always set out to create something a bit different so we expected our café to be controversial when it opened. But if we’re honest, we didn’t really expect people to be quite so vocal. We do still get a few trolls here and there, but the feedback we get face to face is overwhelmingly positive and, by growing and expanding, I think we’ve proven a fair few of our original critics wrong.

You’ve been in the cereal game for several years now. What have you learned in that time?

Interestingly, while mainstream cereal has become all about healthy, sugar-free options, there is still huge demand for cereal as a treat. For us, cereal’s not just a breakfast staple, it’s a treat you can have at any time of day. We realised that people wanted indulgent cereal and that no-one else was offering it to them.

Why does cereal tend to take us back to childhood?

A bowl of cereal is probably the first meal most people make for themselves as a kid. There’s also a huge nostalgia factor around the types of cereal and the free toys. For us, cereal’s a guilt-free treat that helps you feel like a kid again and that’s why our cafés are a shrine to the 90s.

How did you choose Dubai for your first overseas expansion?

Our cafés have been really popular with Middle Eastern audiences and it seemed like a natural step for our first international store to open in Dubai. We also just opened another location in Qatar. We’re always looking at opportunities to expand further and are currently having conversations about opening in India. In the long run, our dream market would be the USA.

In an interview with the Evening Standard in 2015, you said politics is something you’re not very interested in - has your view changed since then, given the political upheaval of the past few years?

Well we’re still not particularly political, but after the last couple of years it’s fair to say we’re more political than we used to be.

And, ok, let’s get specific: how is Brexit going to affect your business?

Things are going really well for us and to be honest we don’t really see Brexit as having a major impact. The potential challenges we’re facing are shared by lots of other businesses, but there are opportunities there as well in terms of increased visitor numbers to the UK.

Do you plan on branching out from cereal? Different restaurant concepts, or different products, for example?

We’re always looking to innovate which is why we’ve launched the Salty Balls and Unicorn Poop. The next step for this is to explore investment opportunities to secure national retail distribution so we can take Salty Balls and Unicorn Poop to the masses! We’ve also launched an all day menu which includes cornflake chicken, AranCheerio Balls and Bran Fries which is going down a storm. Elsewhere, our two London cafés and two international locations are doing roaring trade, and we’ve always got an eye on more locations. Watch this space!


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