The past few months have not been straightforward. As many of our regular customers and Facebook followers will know we had a bit of a shock back in October. This led to our decision to close The Kitchen’s lovely little Coffee Shop and focus exclusively on the Celebration Cake business and pre-booked events and classes.
We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from so many of you. But also concerned that we were confusing things. Were we open – or not? Could you pop in for coffee and order a cake? What about those waiting for the dentist or a dog to be groomed – would we make you a pot of tea as we have always done?
For a few weeks we struggled but gradually a pattern emerged. Open on Tuesday for New Babies Meet Up. And again on Friday for all the teas booked on our Groupon offer. Weekend as usual for cake collections and Sunday cream teas. Closed all day Monday for a rest or catch up.
Friends rallied round. Not just washing up but learning to use the coffee machine. Then going away to learn more on YouTube and coming back determined to make the best coffee in Croxley. Whilst I focussed on the cakes I realised they were taking the stress of the shop away from me and I let them do so. Something not necessarily in my nature but I found myself happy to let others make changes, reorganise things, throw away rubbish and even introduce new systems.
Marketing the cakes more widely has led to a huge increase in sales and orders. From corporate cupcakes to film studio props and tiered wedding cakes, we’ve found ourselves with more and more interesting orders. Every cake is important to us and even if you just want a single cupcake please come in and ask us – we’d love to help.
Meanwhile the shop refused to close! And eventually my friend suggested taking it on. After the stress of the last few months and all I have blogged about this does of course feel risky. VAT, Brexit, government legislation – the hurdles to making a profit haven’t disappeared. But one thing we are all agreed on – we want to be here for the community, as a meeting place for young and old.
So here’s the deal. For the next six months The Kitchen will open from 10am – 4pm from Tuesday to Friday. On a Saturday from 10am – 5pm. And Sunday Afternoon 2pm – 5pm. On a Monday we will be closed (sorry!) and sadly we can no longer open early for the commuter coffees we’d hoped to provide. But we are here for the coffee catch ups, Afternoon Teas, New Babies meet ups, Kitchen Folk, Comedy Nights, The Dial Up, the waiting room for the dentist and dog groomer – and the MOT. There will be coffee and cake on offer from 10am – 4pm but we are happy for you to pop in earlier and relax whilst we get ready for the day. And we will never ask you to leave even if we flip the sign on the door at the end of the afternoon.
We’ve enjoyed chatting to lots of customers in person and online about the issues we have raised. Just this week I watched “Inside The Christmas Factory” and was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cakes and mince pies mass produced in this vast place. We cannot compete on this level but we can when it comes to superior flavour and texture, and the personal friendly service we always aim to provide.
As we approach Christmas we look forward to a few days break. We will be at The Kitchen cleaning, catching up on paperwork and admin, stocktaking and ordering. But we will also be looking at the way forward and we’d love you to contribute to that. Do comment on here, drop us an email or join in a discussion on our Facebook page.
So please have a wonderful Happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year ready to make sure that Independent Coffee Shops, Cafes and Restaurants, along with other small businesses such as Butchers, Bakers, Greengrocers and Fishmongers can not just survive but thrive in an economy that looks like it could so easily be overwhelmed by the multinationals and supermarkets.
Thank you for all your support. Linda and Ian