Independent cafes in Northampton relieved to welcome customers inside for the first time in months
Business owners from the sector are hoping to bounce back as lockdown eases
A number of independent cafes in Northampton were able to welcome customers inside today (May 17) for the first time since before Christmas.
Business owners were relieved to see friendly faces in their venues once again and were keen to get going.
Chronicle & Echo visited The Sandwich Bar in Gold Street and Olly B’s in College Mews to see how reopening day was going.
Family-run business The Sandwich Bar, used to service customers from a unit in Bridge Street, however Frances, Alanna and Kerri Burton are now focussing all their attention on the Gold Street venue, which lends itself well to eating in.
Frances - Alanna and Kerri’s mum - has always wanted to run a cafe after turning her hand to many things over the years.
Now the family has a premises which is decorated with thoughtful quotes and flowers, where homemade cakes are served on a variety of vintage crockery, which has been collected over the years.
Alanna said: “We have been open for takeaway and we’ve been on UberEats for the first time. We didn’t know how it would go but it has kept us going.
“But we’re really excited, and a bit nervous, to get people back in.
“For many of our customers, it is a home from home and they like to come in and have a chat.
“We’ve had a couple of people in for their breakfasts. I think that is what people have been missing; a full English and a fry-up.
“But a lot of people have been saying ‘we’ll see you Tuesday’. People think it will be too busy on the first day so are waiting for later in the week.
“Over the next few weeks we’ll get a feel for it properly about what it will be like, as a lot of people might not know that we have reopened.
The cafe, which serves vintage afternoon teas, as well as sandwiches and jacket potatoes and hot and cold drinks, has set up a Gallone’s ice cream stand as well for when the warmer weather hits, as the team wanted ‘something new to get up and running with’.
As well as the cafe, The Sandwich Bar also caters for corporate meetings and weddings and has acquired extra space below the cafe to use for the additional venture.
Frances added: “I think we have come through the other end. Like with a lot of businesses, there are big debts, but I think we will get there and we are thanking customers for that.
“Once the catering starts back up, we are hoping that will go well also.
“We’re also pushing the vintage afternoon teas as we know people want to get back in and meet up with friends and family that they have missed.”
Search ‘The Sandwich Bar’ on Facebook and Instagram to find out more and to book for vintage afternoon teas, which need to be booked 24 hours in advance.
Around the corner, at Olly B’s in College Mews, owner Cheryl Hutchinson was also glad to be able to welcome customers inside.
Cheryl said: “We did open outside on April 12 but after being closed for the first lockdown and only doing takeaways in the second one, we knew we had to get back open after this one.
“Even if it was only to get our name back out there and even if it’s only ten customers a day, it’s better than nothing.
“When we opened on the 12th we were reliant on the weather and it has been horrendous. “People have called to cancel and have said they’re really sorry, but I totally understand it.
“So it’s such a relief for me and for customers knowing they have a place to come into now.”
Despite a challenging year, Cheryl is optimistic that business will pick up again and that customers will want to get back out into the world.
She added: “I think a lot of people want to come in and have a chat and just be sociable again.
“I’m hoping we will get a lunch time rush but I think a lot of people are quite nervous still and I think some are thinking they might not be able to get in on the first day as we are quite small.
“We have to go month-to-month rather than day-to-day as we are a destination where people want to come to, rather than relying on footfall.
“I am disappointed with the town centre as there is not a lot going on and that affects business.
“It is also affected by offices not being full at the moment, but I’m very optimistic and I always said I will not go down without a fight and I’m not going to go down over something I have no control over.”
Customers were also welcomed back to The Supper Sausage and Wetherspoons today. Read more here.