Waiting for trains can be tedious. Endlessly strolling along the platform for what feels like an eternity, as the clock ticks by at a snail’s pace. However, those commuting from Hertford North Railway Station wouldn’t be able to describe this feeling to you, all thanks to a family-run business looking out for its travelling community.

Since 1996, Ray and the Aggio family have welcomed those passing by with open arms. A shop situated at the entrance of Hertford North, wittily by the name of Mind The Gap, has become a staple in the area.

On the surface, it’s evident why customers are so loyal. The service from any member of the family is second to none. The way in which a smile and conversation complements what they have to offer inside the shop itself remarkably separates this place from any other. Mind The Gap really does have it all, from hot drinks to start your day and keep you warm as winter approaches, to a refreshing range of craft beers, including on draught. Hot food is also served daily! It doesn’t stop there, as the list goes on. A range of magazines and newspapers are available, alongside a variety of sweet treats, fresh fruits, pastries, sandwiches, and even the essentials, such as milk and frozen foods. Whatever it is you need, the Aggio family have your back.

Ray Aggio personally gave me insight to the business’s 26 years of success. Sat comfortably upon one of the many seating areas the shop provides, we discussed what has made Mind The Gap flourish. “It’s community driven. It’s convenient, as well as diverse. We have a bar inside, and even host events”.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Ray had to fight to keep his business afloat. “The business is commuter driven, so it was difficult with people working from home”, he told me. “We owe a lot to our craft beers during lockdown, being able to sell drinks for people to have at home.”. Thankfully, the family found a way to keep on going. A certificate from the South Hertfordshire Branch for Camra can be found outside the shop, congratulating their efforts during lockdown.

Since then, business is booming for Ray. His very own Mind The Gap has won several awards, such as the Food & Drink Retailers Award (Ilovehertford.co.uk) and the Community Awards (Love Hertford Awards), both in 2021. To this day, they are still doing their bit, from offering work experience to young people, to allowing aspiring reporters like myself to write articles!

So, there you have it. Through thick and thin, Mind The Gap continues to be the heart of Hertford that keeps on beating. Whilst doing so, they make that dreaded wait for a train pass by much faster. Hey, you might even enjoy it from now on. Hertford does!