Hello dear friends and followers! Happy New Year! And Happy New Decade!! And Happy February already! Yaaaay!! Today is a very special day.... it has a posh name a "Palindrome" 02/02/2020 and is one of those special number days that can be read both back and forth the same way - aaannd won't happen again this decade! So there’s a bit of magic in the air today!
Exciting times are ahead of us all. It’s a time of new beginnings and positive vibes. Can you feel it?... Can you feel it?? ..... can you feeeel it?? Sing ;) Sing along.... 🤪)..... Wooo hoooo and.....we’re back!!
Now this is a long one... (I’m taking up the unused January space you see!!). So hold on... make a cuppa.... are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin.
You may have been in by now to see us already, but if not, we had a gruelling journey home from our New Years holiday. What with heavy rain grounding all our return flights, flight cancellations as a result, and several airport stop overs and nights in between (some in posh hotels.., some not so much 🤪) but anyway, we made it back safe and sound. Eventually. So thanks for asking, yes, we had 2 full weeks of fabulous sunshine and high (yes 90% some days) humidity- not great for the hair ladies, ahem.... but it was an experience, and it really was a most stress free and relaxing break....
So, what’s new at Winstonberry? Already we are making plans to change a few things and to make a few tweaks - as we do! And address a few.... things.... So one of the first things people, is the Deli....
We invested a lot of time and money into this little project last year but sadly, and being very honest, it isn’t working. Or at least, not in the way we’d hoped it would. We’ve found that certain things like our Claires Jams, Charlie & Ivy's mayos and dipping oils, the wines and spirits and of course the ice cream and jars of sweeties have all gone down a treat. But the fresh foods - Well, not so much! And whilst the delicious breads by Rise Artisan Bakery went so well in the beginning, orders have fallen away. So, whilst it’s not for us to reason why, (we have deliberated and cogitated.....) what we do know is, it’s a loss leader and we are unable to sustain things as they are.
So - we feel the way forward is perhaps to create a little extra serving space in the ‘Deli’ for Ice cream Sundaes and coffees only... we may remove some shelving to fit in a couple of tables and chairs... and then add more of gift items to the space - we feel this is what you like best. Also, if you do want a regular bread delivery (every Friday) or even every other, please get in touch and we'll try to put together some larger orders for Rise to keep that going - their bread is delicious! We are sorry for those of you who’ve supported us with our deli and enjoyed the regular fresh goodies, but we are sure you will understand. It’s a business decision and we have to be able to pay our bills. So we aren’t dwelling on things... some you win and some you don’t!
Next, upstairs and the B&B. It was also very quiet last year. No idea why... although others in the industry
have commented upon lower numbers in lettings. Maybe this year will be busy? Who knows. We’ve already had a few guests since returning..... But in the meantime we are considering our options for better use of the space and are thinking along the lines of having treatment rooms (bring in a Masseur perhaps or a Reiki practitioner or two....??) We're considering more events over the course of the year too. Dawn (that’s me!) is keen to host a couple of mixed media art sessions - so do comment if you’d be interested in receiving more information. As ever, we will combine it with a nice lunch and a delicious coffee in the afternoon. No nicer way to spend a day with friends... or come along alone and make some new ones!
Alongside that we're thinking Artists Or creative spaces - could be an option? Who knows..... if anyone has any ideas, please email us at email@example.com and watch this space - quite literally.....
Chloe announced the 'pop up shop' idea - so if you're a creative, small business, currently without a shop front (maybe working from home?) why not give it a try? Contact us by email for info! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On another note our 'Winstonberry Lates' return next month, and we have a “Curry Night” planned for 29th February! Join us to mark the leap year in a spicy, fun, fashion. We are Licensed in case you didn’t know, so enjoy a nice chilled glass of wine, a cold beer with your meal or maybe even try a cocktail or two ;) Spaces are limited so please call in and book whilst enjoying coffee and cake to book a table. We are taking deposits of £5pp for this one please to enable us to better plan our numbers and quantities of food.
‘Blog Summary’🤪🥳 this is what I’m calling my next "section".....
Now, We never, ever, like to end a post on a ‘downer’ but.... we are often asked questions about how/when and why we run our business the way we do. It’s not really something we like to address. End of the day, it’s up to us! But things crop up, time and again - to the point that we’ve had people stomp out, received rude comments and below par reviews. And we care, people!
It matters to us what people think! (I know, it shouldn’t and we will learn not to care... but for now, call us naive...) So maybe it’s time to clear the air on a few matters. Now we know our regulars have gotten to know us and we feel, understand and appreciate us for what we do. But sadly, some people just don’t and it does make us feel.... well.... quite sad really. So since it’s a new year, new month, new decade - lets get a few things out there! In the open.... what the hell! And maybe you, our readers and subscribers and avid fans 🥳 can help us by setting the record straight if others mention any of these things to you?....
‘Why don’t you open longer? Or open more evenings?’
A. Ok.... so, there are 2 of us running the whole shebang. Many things go unseen... besides the general day to day running around (because we're usually both there every day), there's food ordering to do, cleaning of the kitchen, the loos and the cafe, organising things for the B&B, paper work, book keeping, social media, marketing, dealing with suppliers, updating the website, google, and trip advisor etc etc. We attend wholesalers, sales rooms and trade shows to select stock for the shop... (usually on our "day off" but occasionally we have to close an extra day. And yes, we do enjoy visiting the latter), but with 2 of us plus our trusty little team of ladies helping us run the show... there’s an awful lot to do behind the scenes. If we open later/longer days, when does it stop? And when do we get time to have a rest or a home life? So in a nutshell, we do what we can....
No.2. ‘Why aren’t you open on Sundays and Mondays? We assumed you'd be open, so called and you were closed!’
A. It costs a certain amount for us just to open our door. Let me explain.... we have to heat the space (I know... but we try... and it’s on full from 8am, honest!). We have many lights on, in several rooms. The coffee machine is like boiling 2 kettles.... all day long....We have to have fresh food on offer, whether anyone comes in - or not. And we need staff - just in case. But regardless, we have to pay our staff whether we are quiet or we are busy. So in winter, when many folk want to sit by the fire, watch TV and keep warm, we aren’t always on the agenda. And selling a couple of slices of cake and a dozen cups of coffee just won’t pay the bills. We’d love to offer more. But sometimes it’s just not good business sense. And trust us, some Sundays in late summer through to winter last year (yes we worked 7 days for a loooong time) were not even covering our costs! And well, Monday’s.... everyone has to have a day off right? If you are ever in doubt, the website and google is updated regularly - even if we're off for trade shows or bank holidays.
No.3 ‘Why do you finish serving food an hour before closing, and coffee/cake 30 minutes before you close? It’s ridiculous!’ ‘Can’t you just make me a quick sandwich/bowl of soup/quick coffee?? It’s still 20, 15, 10 minutes 'til closing time’
A. Now this one.... is hard!! No, we don’t want to push away or lose custom. And yes, we are still here anyway, cleaning down after the day and preparing for the next.... but it’s very unlikely that 10/15 minutes will pass and you will leave...we know this because it has happened, many times. Although people say they’d be quick, we've got to make the order up first (a few minutes) and then they sit and lose track of time. If we keep the coffee machine on, remember the 2 kettles? 15 minutes boiling 2 kettles will cost way more than a coffee. Plus the heating is on, the lights are on, we can’t clean up (nothing worse than people hoovering around you). The staff are kept back and only after that can we clean down, arrange tomorrow’s deliveries and cash up. Yes, you get the picture... And then, and only then, can we go home... to our pets and our families...I could go on and on here... Basically, we feel that 30 minutes is a realistic time to enjoy a drink/ slice of cake, after that we just like to go home from work on time, don't you?
No.4. ‘why is that all that’s on your menu? Don’t you do ‘proper’meals?? Is this it?
A. Well... we are a coffee shop, not a restaurant...but feel we do go beyond the basic sandwich and offer a delicious selection of lunch items suited to varying tastes... I’m sorry to bore the pants off you. I know, it’s tedious....so I will make this one the last, promise.
No.5. ‘Why can’t you get me that chutney/bread/pate/chicken/yoghurts/cheese that I like anymore?’
A. We are really, really sorry. But we aren’t Tesco. And we don’t have the buying power of big concerns. Small fry like us just aren’t important to many suppliers- and they have minimum orders of £200/£300.... or it's minimum quantities- 2 dozen/2 trays/4 boxes of 6...
And when you sell an occasional thing to an odd person and the demand isn’t there, it leaves us with such.. a.. lot.. of.. waste. Honestly, we wish we could do it. Offer everything! But we just can’t.
So, that's all. Let’s start February with a skip and a hop..... I a light hearted manner. Let us be happy and cheerful and enjoy life. Let us sing and dance in the daffodils! No, I haven’t lost the plot! Indeed, we are trying very very hard to keep paddling and swimming along. We try to keep smiling. We try to offer the best coffee, cakes, tasty fresh food, scrumpy tasty treats. We like to be the place you come to enjoy time with family and friends, to have a chat or a bit of light hearted company. We really, really try hard. And we do care! We have said so many times, we love our little biz. We love to see you all. We appreciate you all MASSIVELY So please pass on to the nay sayers and the moaners and the negatives.... please try and help them understand - we are really trying and we are doing our very best. And if I haven’t frightened you away with this heartfelt blog.... we shall see you very soon hopefully for our delicious coffees , cakes and more.
(If anything can tempt you back...this will ;)
Dawn & Chloe xx