Today Bread was a very successful local cafe visited by the local community and used for meeting friends, as a workplace or just to enjoy some healthy food made fresh in house. It is also an artisan sourdough bakery (in the same space) where bread is produced daily in front of customers. We believe in transparency and want to show customers how long the sourdough bread making is and also to be transparent about the ingredients and processes we use. The cafe and the bakery worked very well together, bringing life into a production space that could otherwise be cold (if we were in an industrial estate like most bakeries) and some ‘theatre’ or something to look at for customers waiting for their food/drinks and watching bakers at work.
"Obviously the pandemic changed all that pretty much overnight. We closed down the cafe, removed tables and chairs and decided to switch to do home deliveries, selling mainly ingredients we already had in bulk..."
Obviously the pandemic changed all that pretty much overnight. We closed down the cafe, removed tables and chairs and decided to switch to do home deliveries, selling mainly ingredients we already had in bulk (organic flour, grains, various kinds of milk, local honey, eggs, etc) and using the bike delivery drivers (usually delivering wholesale bread to cafes now closed) to deliver to individual houses.
During the lockdown, many of our suppliers either closed completely, or decided to limit their delivery days. So, it became very difficult to purchase products that are usually easy to source, such as butter, eggs or cream. This forced us to ask around to all our friends in the industry for their sources and to open new accounts with new businesses, and as a result we’ve partnered with some brilliant local businesses.
We realised that many items such as face masks, sanitiser, bread proving baskets, fresh yeast, etc were coming from far away, so we looked to instead sell even more locally made products.
We also got in touch with local business owners to check how they were doing, which new systems and ideas they tried, and were working or failing, and sharing experiences and tips. We worked with a number of local businesses such as Minor Figures, a plant-based milk brand near us. We were also able to source free-range eggs locally through our friends at Hackney Essentials, to sell local beers from Toast, Signature and Pillars brewery (all super local), and to work with local chefs and pastry chefs now with a lot of time on their hands, to create amazing homemade products – ranging from pickles to chocolate spreads.
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I think we can do more, but the pandemic has helped people understand more about the hospitality industry, how much work and pressure we work with. They can now see how fragile that economy is and how dependent on great staff and local suppliers we are. This pandemic really showed the best and the worst in most of us, including staff that disappeared to others that really stood out and helped ride the wave. To our business, it felt like a spring clean we were forced to do, having to take hundreds of very important decisions in no time and with no idea of what tomorrow will be made of. But interestingly, this is the exact reason I called this business Today Bread, because yesterday is gone and there is not much to do about it, and today more than ever, we never know what tomorrow will be made of, so better enjoy Today!
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