OK, so where were we?
Oh yeah, I was having a courier related meltdown.
Guess what, that happened this week too! Arghhhhh. Just when you think you've turned a corner...
Anyways, I'm jumping the gun a little there... Back to lockdown 1.0.
If you missed the first part, and our journey to doing UK wide delivery and how we survived the first leg of our covid journey, have a read here!
We were slowly building our customer base for local and UK delivery, rebuilding the website for online shopping, and getting used to promoting a whole new side of the business, while trying to navigate the ups and downs of lockdown, that we've all felt personally and struggled with different parts of. It seemed like one of us would have a bad week, and then it'd swing round to someone else, and back again, on repeat. Luckily, we had each other for support.
Clearly that wasn't enough to keep us busy, as we redecorated the cafe too!
When it got done the first time, it was literally a two day, two girl, turn around with no money and no plan, when I closed as Blue Daisy Cafe (the previous business that was in the space, that I ran as was for two months until I had earned some cash to be able afford to change things), and reopened three days later as Nibble, back in July 2017.
I think us hard working girls did a banging job of doing it ourselves, as always, and we love our pink and green peaceful space.
There really is nothing we can't do when we put our minds to it.
Time to reopen, July 4th…
We were little late to the party, because we couldn’t afford the stock we needed in time for 4th, but we got there in the end...
We were pretty nervous after being closed for what felt like such a long time (and none of us knew we'd have to do it all over again).
Did we remember how to cook at speed?
Would people come out?
Were we one of the places people would want to come back to?
Had we kept things going enough over lockdown that we wouldn't be forgotten?
Would people feel safe?
There was a huge conflict of emotions and worries, a load of new guidelines to follow and put in place, but also a load of excitement to leave our lockdown lives behind.
And... It was busy! Everything we hoped it would be. Thank you so much.
People were so glad to be out. We were too.
It was so great to see our regulars back again, and lovely to meet our new lockdown friends too and put faces to emails and instagrams.
It was lovely.
And then Manchester went into local lockdown, July 31st.
Just in time for Eat Out To Help Out, August 3rd.
Now, I don’t want to seem ungrateful when I say, it was BRUTAL.
It was a combination of people being encouraged to go out, but also not at the same time.
August was hot.
Hospitality was operating with limited teams.
We couldn’t hire, as we couldn’t guarantee we’d have jobs or hours, even for us, once this ended.
There was no knowing which way things would go, and we were knackered.
“Are you doing the discount?” replaced “Hi, how are you today?”
Our regulars stayed indoors, to avoid the hustle and bustle.
We were knackered early week, and quiet at the weekend.
No one understood the local restrictions, and government guidance was less than clear.
Especially to anyone who didn’t live in Manchester, but were visiting.
We had to enforce things to avoid being closed down, and while the vast majority were lovely about it, there were definitely some who were pretty pissed off that they couldn't sit in big groups, didn't want to sign in, and weren't receptive to our pleas.
Trust me, we didn’t like it any more than you did.
It was becoming pretty disheartening, as I'm sure any of your friends who work in hospitality or retail will tell you.
Of course it wasn’t all bad, we were still so grateful to be working, and get some money coming back into the till to get things moving again, to run around and shift some lockdown weight, and to be able to have a bloody pint (there were many!) at the end of a hard day and feel like you've earned it. We did meet some lovely new customers, and we were able to use the discount a few times ourselves when we had the energy, but it was definitely a month.
In September, things settled into a more normal routine and we managed to find a bit of normality and really into our groove again.
October 14th… Tier 2.
October 23rd… Tier 3.
November 5th… Lockdown.
In a matter of weeks, restrictions changed, again, and again, and again.
Of course people were confused and unhappy about it.
With each change and each government announcement, trade dramatically reduced.
We just weren’t making ends meet.
And then we were locked down again.
December 3rd… Reopened, again. With more restrictions.
We reduced when we were open.
The trade just wasn't there, we were open five days a week but taking the same in a month, that we would take in a week before covid, with the same bills to pay.
Things were even quieter, and we couldn't have people sat down anymore.
Our Christmas pre-orders and online shop, and a big job from our saviours at Manchester University saved the day for us over Winter, without that, I'm not sure what position we would be in now, only that it wouldn't be good.
We closed early after a dismal Christmas Eve, and made the decision to stay closed between Christmas and New Year’s, to limit our losses and try to enjoy a festive break, even though we really weren’t feeling it.
And then, ANOTHER BLOODY LOCKDOWN!!
And that’s it, we haven't traded from the cafe since Christmas Eve...
But, we will be back on Thursday April 15th!
We took January off.
It’s a rubbish month anyways, and we didn’t expect much from the online side of things after the country was back on furlough and had spent money on a Christmas that was largely cancelled last minute.
We needed a rest from fighting, so we could come back fighting fit later on.
I thought I’d find it restful, but lockdown was so much harder this time around, with the dark, cold days, and dark, cold nights. Everyone felt it, and we were no exception.
I was tired, completely demotivated, lost all confidence in what I was doing, I was sad.
There didn’t seem to be any point to the days, and everything felt pretty lonely.
My partner was at work most days and nights (probably better for our relationship that way, haha), and I wasn’t able to see anyone else.
I became an island. I forgot how to communicate with other people, even ones I like!
I took over the parenting of my step son, which was a shock to the system too, although the company was great and we did have lots of quality time, and cooking lessons.
I went from people telling me how much they enjoyed their meals at the cafe, to arguing about eating the veggies on his plate. We also have a house under construction (and have done since lockdowns began), so let's just say, we aren't quite living comfortably at home just yet.
I started a course in digital marketing with the lovely Holly, trying to kick myself back up the ass, do something for me, and to use my time off to do something useful again, and improve on something to help me in my future. I'd forgot how good and empowering it feels to learn something new, and it definitely shook things up for me in a good way. I got my mojo back!
Then I was ready to reopen the online shop and get this show back on the bloody road.
We played with packaging and we are now sending everything UK wide, which is a lovely achievement that we didn't really see in our futures before the covid journey began.
It was slow to start, but then Valentine’s was great. Mother’s Day was even better. And we've just polished off an Easter shop that rounded our lockdown off pretty well.
We have a temporary CAKE SHOP menu on the site at the moment while we get our ducks in a row for reopening, and our online shop will still be operating when we reopen so please keep ordering and checking out our website!
It’s been so lovely to help you connect and celebrate with your loved ones from afar.
It’s so nice to deliver to people who aren’t expecting it, to see the smiles on their faces, and to know we’ve been a little part of cheering up some dull lockdown days.
Our new found successes with our online shop, and your lovely messages of thanks and support, really helped me to find my confidence again, and my motivation too.
That’s not to say we aren’t still having the same lockdown days as you, you know, the ones when you can’t bring yourself to get dressed, move, or do a single productive thing, and every little thing reduces you to big, fat, open mouth, ugly tears, and all you eat is beige.
But, we are very happy to be getting closer to the other side, and extremely grateful for our new lockdown friends and our faithful regulars, and we cannot wait to see you soon.
Later in the week, I'll give you a run down of what to expect when we reopen, and reveal our opening menu... It's all getting very exciting! I hope you've had a lovely bank holiday weekend, and thank you for reading.
Feel free to get in touch with me for a lockdown chat by sliding into my DMs on insta!