From a customer service perspective we’ve left it too long as there are people out there not using other social media who may have missed events and have no idea what we are up to as this blog and the newsletter are their way of keeping in touch.
And from Mrs Kitchen’s point of view there’s a whole list of blog titles and posts just waiting to be written. And until they find their way onto the (virtual) page they have an annoying habit of buzzing around in the brain in the wee small hours so it’s not a bad idea to write a blog post (or ten) and see where that leads us….
Baguettes. Or a short history of lunch…
When we first opened we were most definitely all about the cake. The best sandwich is a Victoria one (it still is…. agreed?!) Someone said to me that within a year we would be selling baguettes and they were sort of kind of a little bit well maybe not quite but perhaps nearly right…
For a while we sold lunches produced elsewhere. They were absolutely delicious and so popular with those who purchased them. But the issue – as with so many things – was footfall. We bought in the lunches, but if they didn’t sell – simply because we didn’t have enough customers – the waste was huge.
Fast forwarding a few months we tried again. This time with paninis. We invested in the panini machine and drew up a menu with a variety of fillings. Halloumi, Ham, Cheese and Tomato etc… With this machine we could also offer toasted sandwiches and all of these delicious treats were served with coleslaw and salad.
What could possibly go wrong?
Again the issue was nothing other than footfall. Bags of salad had to be thrown away. Coleslaw was consumed by the staff to avoid wasting it but let’s be honest there is a limit to how much you can eat. Likewise the perfectly prepared halloumi and other fillings. Chances were when the fridge was empty and nothing going to waste a party would come in looking for lunch for eight but that was the problem – how can you predict this?
Lunch was off the menu – again. But Afternoon Tea was beginning to take off courtesy of a deal with a certain promotional website.
For all the issues we experienced with this deal there are a few things we can thank it for.
1. Practice. We most definitely perfected our Afternoon Tea making skills as we prepared and served perhaps twenty teas a day six or seven days a week. Even if we kept very little of the money there’s now very little we don’t know about how to make a perfect sandwich and scone.
2. Reviews. Over 200 in fact and 99% of them 5 star. Yes we weren’t the prettiest tearoom but at the time we were working with furniture we’d been gifted and an extremely limited budget. Fast forward a couple of years and we’ve refurbished ourselves – still on an exceptionally limited budget – courtesy of eBay and to be honest Farrow and Ball.
3. Marketing. These big marketing companies have huge reach and there’s no question they popped The Kitchen under the nose of very many people who would otherwise never have heard of us. True – many of them were miles away and probably only visited because they liked the look of the deal. And perhaps many of them would next time simply choose another deal. But there is no doubt some of them stayed, have become regular and very valued customers, and visit us again and again – even if they are many miles away.
The Rise of the Sandwich
As Teas took off the fridges were once again filling up with ham and cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers, cream cheese and egg mayonnaise. The odd person – by that we mean occasional – would sometimes ask us for a sandwich and instead of offering them the Victoria variety we’d now pop something between two slices of bread! They’d buy a hot drink, and perhaps a piece of cake, and suddenly we were doing lunch.
Bread at that point was a little boring. Thinly sliced brown and white sandwich loaves are perfect for crustless afternoon tea sandwiches well filled with egg mayonnaise or cream cheese and cucumber but we felt something a little more rustic was called for to differentiate our lunchtime offering. Almost by chance we stumbled across the majestic marvellousness of Jackson’s bloomer loaves (not quite by chance to be honest – they came most highly recommended by an adopted Yorkshireman) and suddenly we were in business!
It was on a quietish morning during the school summer holidays that our lunchtime deal was born. Looking at our fabulous display of Ten Acre crisps, thinking how well they go with a lunchtime sandwich, figuring anyone purchasing them would want a drink and perhaps something sweet to finish we decided to offer put together a package for a very reasonable £7.50. Popular doesn’t begin to describe it – this was clearly what people were looking for at lunchtime and the proof has most definitely been in the huge number of lunches now served every day.
We go into Autumn optimistic that we will be busy at lunchtime as well as for tea. A major advertising campaign kicking off tomorrow will spread the word and we’ll be asking friends to share and invite others to enjoy lunch at The Kitchen. We can’t wait to welcome you but meanwhile we’d love to hear your comments and who knows there may just be such a thing as a free lunch for the best response!