Living through Lockdown

The recent lockdown has been tough on independents. We chatted to three of Weston’s food and drink businesses to see how they survived (and even flourished!)

Good & Proper Weston – Clare Morris
“Good & Proper Weston, formerly Coco Browns/Cocos, has been serving the people of Weston and visitors to the town from its base in Regent Street since 2006. 
“When the Government announced the country was shutting down for the foreseeable future I genuinely thought that 14 years of work was gone and that I was going to have to make all my staff redundant; that feeling was crushing. 
“Slowly becoming used to our new lives was a challenge financially and I wondered what was going to happen in that very scary time.
“On my fridge door I have a note that says, ‘Put all items in shop on website’. Having passed that everyday for the last 18 months, I realised I actually had the time to create the online shop I have hankered after and, after 10 weeks of lockdown, I had my very own webshop, which I am so excited about. I want to champion local independent artists with exciting products to sell as well as selling all my yummy snack food you would usually buy in store.
“Whilst this was going on I partnered with Loves Cafe and started cooking for our fabulous NHS staff at Weston Hospital – we’ve created over 50 healthy nutritious lunchboxes for our key workers in Weston.
“I am looking forward with trepidation, with a feeling of great uncertainty but also knowing I have done my best with what this crazy moment in time has thrown at us and above all else I spent 6 amazing weeks at home with my daughter (when I say amazing it was more challenging!), which is time money can’t buy and we’ll look back on this with such love and affection of time well spent; I might actually mourn for the loss of these strange halcyon days.
“Good & Proper Weston is operating a take-away service and has tables and chair outside the coffee shop.”
Keep up-to-date with what’s going on at  the Good & Proper Weston Facebook page

Black Cat Micropub – Nick Smith
“We decided after some deliberation that we might be able to make ends meet by doing a home delivery service to local addresses. 
“We tried operating as a takeaway off licence at first, but after having completed risk assessments early on during lockdown, we were just really uncomfortable about the whole thing so we decided the safer, more customer friendly option would be home delivery, especially as some of our customers are vulnerable, and had been quarantined. 
“The scheme seems to be working well, and we have lots of repeat customers. We’re going to continue as a delivery service and we are now, with the necessary safety measures in place, we are finally also able to offer an off licence.”
The Black Cat supplies different craft beers for delivery each week. It also runs an off licence on Saturday and Sunday, 5-8pm. see the Black Cat Micropub Facebook page for what’s currently being ordered by Weston residents.

Loves Cafe – Anna Southwell
“Loves Cafe has been open for 11 years. I started it as I saw a gap in the Weston social scene for something that sat between a pub and a cafe. Somewhere where people could feel sociable or at home without the pressure of drinking or being in a large group. I wanted people of all ages to feel welcome and families to feel it was a safe environment. It started with a simple business model and has evolved organically on its own terms with the direction of its community. 
“When lockdown was announced, I immediately panicked and went out and found another interim job, mainly so that I could cover the bills while the cafe was closed so that we still had a business to return to. Very quickly I realised I could negotiate the social distancing rules in a safe way to carry on serving the community and I have been able to implement this. 
“North Somerset Council have leant me an amazing electric bike on which we do food deliveries, including veg boxes. We’ve also carried on cooking vegetarian food for our customers plus we’ve made around 1000 NHS meals.
“By carrying on, we’ve guaranteed a future for the business: we’ve kept on spending money with our suppliers; we’ve offered a service, a community hub and most importantly we’ve enabled ourselves and our community to “pay it forward” by using our profits to feed the staff at the local hospital, hospice and the ambulance service. 
“It’s been fun adapting and learning new skills. At the moment I’m not thinking too far ahead. However I can’t wait to be back open, having live events and seeing people regularly enjoying themselves at Loves once more.”
Loves is currently running a take-away only service. Up-to-date information is on the Loves Facebook Page