National Hospitality Day: Locals stuck by cafe through 'thick and thin'
- Credit: Matt Lawrence
Ahead of National Hospitality Day on September 18, the Recorder wants to shine a spotlight on an industry severely hit by Covid-19.
Though now emerging out the other side, the hospitality sector has felt the effects of coronavirus more than most.
For the owner of Caffé Gelato, Matt Lawrence, the ability to keep going has been down to one thing.
“Our customers. I want to thank all of them - they have stuck with us through thick and thin," he said.
Customers' continued loyalty during the various lockdowns meant the Upminster café kept trading with a takeaway and delivery service.
Matt credits the "good old British, English spirit" for this, commenting that people would sit outside or on the pavement to eat.
The café also adapted its menu to suit the circumstances, introducing breakfast boxes alongside graze boxes (which included foods such as cheeses and pâté).
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Matt explained while the café has been a local fixture for "around 10 years", he has only owned it since June 2020.
Having initiated the purchase in October 2019, the sale was expected to go through by around Christmas time.
A few delays meant Matt officially took the reins the following June - slap bang in the middle of a pandemic.
Determined to power through, Matt feels he and the team "made the most" of what they could do during that period.
Having overcome this considerable hurdle, he's delighted to have a fully-functioning Caffé Gelato.
“Now we’re open again it’s starting to feel a bit more normal. There are still a few people who are a bit reserved, so we’ve kept some of the screens up."
With more than 30 years experience in customer-facing industries, Matt knows what hospitality is truly about.
"It’s all about the interaction with people, and having a bit of a natter. I'm so glad to have that back!"
Caffé Gelato is on Corbets Tey Road in Upminster.
For further information, visit @GelatoUpminster on Facebook or Instagram.